The Maryland women’s basketball team will begin the 2016-17 season at No. 5 in the Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday.
Brenda Frese’s team returns seniors Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who have already been named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. Maryland also brings in the top recruiting class in the country, a six-freshman haul that includes five 5-star prospects.
Only Connecticut, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Baylor are ranked ahead of the Terps; those four teams were the top seeds in the Women’s NCAA Tournament this spring. The four-time reigning national champion Huskies received 18 of 32 first-place votes despite losing three players to the WNBA (Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, who were the top three picks in the draft).
This should be the most wide-open season in recent memory, and Maryland has a real chance at making a deep tournament run. The Terps will be tested early, though, with games against No. 16 Arizona State on Nov. 25; at No. 8 Louisville on Dec. 1; and vs. UConn on Dec. 29.