Right for Once?

I like to make predictions. I also like to sing, play poker, and practice internet sarcasm. Glad my parents at least have the latter about which to be proud.

To prove the point, how about this take on the the Patriots trading for Randy Moss.

Whoops.

Anyway, every once in a while the sun shines in my direction, witness some preseason thoughts on the Terps Men’s Basketball Team. Granted, the progress comes a month early, but it is here.

Oh, they went through some rough patches all right. After back to back home losses to Ohio and American I nearly wept at my ineptitude to see a team’s potential (or maybe it was my two year old twins using my stomach as a trampoline). Regardless, the chances for a dramatic turnaround looked grim.

Then it happened. A few bright spots to start January followed by the biggest upset of the entire college basketball season to date: knocking off top ranked and undefeated North Carolina at home.

As for big picture relevance, the victory might mean little. The Terps still have an RPI rating in the 80’s and enough bad losses to make the NCAA Tourney selection committee get all Simon Cowell on Gary’s Gang.

But winning on Tobacco Road provides an amazing boost in confidence, not just for the gaggle of freshmen that earn plenty of playing time, but more importantly this season, for the veterans.

James Gist had to have a game like that. The senior forward is too talented, too experienced to throw up some of the clunkers amassed this season. He reminded everyone in college basketball why he earned a few comparisons to Len Bias as a freshman.

Same for Bumbale Osby and Greivis Vasquez. They hadn’t executed that well against a quality opponent since the win at Duke last February.

And the impact on the freshmen? Titanic. When you get that first nationally relevant win that lands the cover of ESPN.com for 24 hours, it validates choosing Maryland in the first place. How much simpler is it for Gary Williams to preach in practice when he can point out “See? It works”.

The chances for a repeat performance Sunday against Duke though seem slim. The Blue Devils pose very different problems than did the Tar Heels. They shoot the ball so much better and play at a slower pace. When Carolina continued to run all game long it demonstrated a refusal to recognize that simply fed the Terps game plan.

Another knock for Sunday, no chance Mike Krzyzewski allows Duke to look past the Terps as did their neighbors to the west. The Blue Devils come to Comcast Center fully prised of the Terps abilities and confidence.

No matter though. The groundwork for expectations has now been laid with more than preseason suppositions. The Terps have a real win under their belts and take the court Sunday with a chance for another.

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