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For a young Maryland basketball team, 2019 starts with an important opportunity

This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Maryland Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland basketball’s freshman class makes up half of its scholarship roster. Of the Terps’ top eight players by minutes this season, five are rookies and two are sophomores, with Anthony Cowan Jr. the lone upperclassman. Like any young team, the growing process hasn’t been without its bumps.

The Terps are 10-3, and all three of those losses have been within five points. Self-inflicted wounds made the difference in two of those games. In particular, the Dec. 22 home loss to Seton Hall left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. Maryland is a few plays away from being 12-1, but with Mark Turgeon’s nonconference schedule light on marquee matchups, it leaves his team in dire need of a strong Big Ten season.

Last month, Turgeon expressed confidence that his young guys had grown up after their first wave of high-intensity games (against Virginia, Penn State and Purdue). That maturity will need to be on display Wednesday, as the Terps host No. 24 Nebraska at 6:30 p.m. ET on BTN. The Huskers are 11-2, and they return almost everyone from the team that went 13-5 in Big Ten play last year and beat the Terps in Lincoln. Featured players James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaiah Roby Not-Jr. are all upperclassmen, so this isn’t a team that will beat itself.

If the Terps want to return to the NCAA Tournament, they’ll need to fare well in games like this. Maryland hasn’t beaten a ranked team since February 2016, and with the Big Ten looking much deeper this year, that’ll have to change. And if last year is any indication, it’s more likely to change at home than on the road.

No game on Jan. 2 can reasonably called a “must-win” contest. But how Maryland’s young guns come out to start the new year will sent an important statement one way or another.

In other news

It’s our first Maryland Minute of the year, so ... Happy New Year!

Our retrospective series on 2018 looked back at some of our favorite Maryland sports moments and some of our favorite Terps stories.

As 2019 gets started, Justin looks at some of the big questions Maryland’s various teams face.

The football team started the new year with a transitive Sugar Bowl win over Georgia. Shoutout to Texas for also giving Maryland transitive victories over Oklahoma, USC and Iowa State this season.

On a more somber note, though, we’re still mourning the death of Tyler Trent, who was just 20 years old. Faced with terminal cancer, he inspired us with the way he lived. He may have left us, but his legacy never will. Our friends at Hammer & Rails wrote about just how special Trent was.