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Maryland men’s basketball cracks AP poll for first time under Willard, landing at No. 23

The Terps are off to a sensational 5-0 start.

Miami v Maryland Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

The Kevin Willard era is off to about as good of a start as imaginable. Maryland men’s basketball has won each of its first five games, making its season debut in the AP poll at No. 23.

Willard is the first head coach in Maryland history to win their first five games.

The Terps’ national recognition comes after their sensational weekend, taking home the Hall of Fame Tip Off Classic championship in Uncasville, Connecticut.

In Maryland’s first game of the weekend Saturday, the Terps ran Saint Louis out of the gym, 95-67. The Billikens are one of college basketball’s best mid-majors and have one of the best point guards in the country in Yuri Collins, but Maryland completely humiliated them. Donta Scott had a career-high 25 points, and the Terps poured in 13 total 3-pointers.

Maryland played Miami in Sunday’s title game, and it was much of the same. Maryland raced past the Hurricanes in the first half and never looked back en route to an 88-70 win. Scott once again shined with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting while all five starters scored in double figures. Julian Reese had 17 points and Hakim Hart had 14 points. The Terps out-rebounded the Hurricanes, 39-20.

Under Willard’s leadership, the Terps are playing at a different level of intensity on both sides of the floor, which includes a swarming defense. The excitement surrounding the program right now is as high as it has been since the 2019-20 season, when Maryland reached as high as No. 3 in the AP poll.

This week, the Terps will have one opportunity to show off their new ranking, facing Coppin State — whose head coach is Maryland legend Juan Dixon — at home Friday. Assuming the Terps will stay in the rankings with a win, they will begin a rampant five-game stretch with a road game at 0-3 Louisville on Nov. 29. If Maryland can get to 7-0, XFINITY Center will be a madhouse for a top 25 Friday night battle against Illinois on Dec. 2.

This year’s team still has a ton of room for growth, but the early results have injected new life into the program.