Observations: Maryland’s guards are the best in the nation

Maryland has the best backcourt in college basketball.

And it may not be close.

The Terps’ combination of Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon has been nearly as efficient as its been devastating.

Many people including myself lamented Maryland’s lack of a quality third guard once Dion Wiley was lost for the season with a meniscus tear, but the real story in College Park is just how good Trimble and Sulaimon are.

The duo is averaging a combined 25.6 points, 9.9 assists, and 6.2 rebounds while shooting a combined 49.0 percent from the field — that’s ridiculous.

Sulaimon has completely bought into to the team concept since arriving as a fifth-year transfer from Duke and is playing like someone who knows he only has three months left in his college basketball career. Trimble meanwhile is just adding to what he did last year as a freshman and he’s even better than he was a year ago at getting downhill in pick-and-roll sequences.

The hardest part in defending this duo?

They’re absolutely lethal in transition and almost play the game on a decline when they get out on the break.

Wichita State’s combination of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker has terrific experience and toughness. Oklahoma’s got a fantastic perimeter as well.

But the best perimeter tandem in the sport is Trimble and Sulaimon and with the way they’ve played thus far it’s not much of a debate.

Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum is going to be a feared home court in the Pac-12: Oregon State (10-2) beat in-state rival Oregon on Sunday night from tip to finish and the biggest thing that may have stood out in the 13-point win was the Beavers’ home court advantage.

Gill Coliseum looked like it had all the makings of a “hornets nest” and that’s bad news for the rest of the Pac-12.

Wayne Tinkle has done yeoman’s work rebuilding this program since being hired in the spring of 2014 and now he’s got a team that has a chance to finish in the top half of the Pac-12 standings and compete for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Oregon State has a Pac-12 player of the year candidate in Gary Payton II, a large core of quality veterans, and three freshmen in Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr., and Drew Eubanks who all mainstays in the Beavers’ rotation.

If there were no jerseys on during Sunday night’s game the Beavers would have looked like the better team 10 times out of 10.

A big reason for that?

The power of Gill Coliseum.

Only in Corvallis, Oregon.

Kansas-Oklahoma has an Elite Eight type of feel: Very rarely in college basketball do we get to see the top two teams in the sport go toe-to-toe.

It’s even rarer to see those two teams trade blows at a venue with the prestige and cache of Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

But that’s just what will happen Monday in Lawrence, Kansas as the top-ranked Jayhawks entertain the second-ranked Sooners.

Kansas (12-1) made mince meat out of a good Baylor team on Saturday while Oklahoma (13-0) held off Iowa State at home in one of the best games we’ve seen thus far this season.

Is Lon Kruger’s squad a legitimate threat to end the Jayhawks’ streak of 11 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles?

We’ll find out Monday.

This Just In

  • Stanford’s Reid Travis (left leg) has no timetable for a return, Johnny Dawkins told CBS Sports on Monday. Travis has not played since Dec. 12.
  • NC State’s Terry Henderson (ankle) still has no timetable for a return, Mark Gottfried told CBS Sports on Monday. Henderson just got crutches last week and is still “nowhere near ready to practice.”
  • Houston’s L.J. Rose (foot) will not play Tuesday against Tulane, Kelvin Sampson said. Rose has yet to play in conference play.

Maryland’s Melo Trimble, left, and Rasheed Sulaimon have led the the Terps to a 13-1 record. (USATSI)

This and That

  • Indiana may be 12-3 after its first 15 games, but the Hoosiers are going to have to do a much better job of taking care of the ball if they want to be a factor atop the Big Ten Standings. Indiana has committed a total of 37 turnovers in its first two conference games and is averaging 15.0 turnovers. That’s simply much too high for a team that has aspirations of competing for a high NCAA seed in March.
  • Fran McCaffery doesn’t always get his due among Big Ten head coaches, but whatever “it” is he has. McCaffery has led four schools — Lehigh, UNC-Greensboro, Siena, and now Iowa to the NCAA Tournament and the Hawkeyes seem primed to make their third straight appearance in the field of 68. This guy knows how to a build a program — at several different levels.
  • Miami is finally getting what it envisioned out of Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy. The 6-foot-8 power forward is averaging 8.0 points and 7.3 rebounds over his last three games all while providing a physical presence on the interior next to Tonye Jekiri. The Hurricanes are 12-1 overall after Saturday’s victory against Syracuse.
  • Texas Tech’s 11-1 start is no fluke — this team is rock solid. Tubby Smith has built to the Red Raiders’ program up to a respectable level during his first few years in Lubbock and now will be an absolute nuisance for opposing teams to play when they go on the road. Texas Tech next travels to Iowa State on Wednesday night.
  • Michigan big man Mark Donnal was average in non-conference play, but through two Big Ten games he’s averaging 21.0 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 72.0 percent from the field. If the Wolverines are able to get half of this type of production from Donnal moving forward they’d immediately be picked as a dangerous team in the Big Ten. John Beilein’s squad is 12-3 overall.
  • Butler may be a significantly better offensive team than it was a year ago, but the Bulldogs better start stopping some people if they hope to make a dent during Big East play. In its first two conference games Butler is surrendering 84.5 points to the opposition. That’s not going to cut it for Chris Holtmann’s squad, who next travels to DePaul on Tuesday.
  • Deonte Burton has a chance to be one of the better transfers that we’ve seen come through Iowa State’s program over the past few seasons. The 6-4 Burton is averaging 13.8 points through his first four games while shooting an impressive 7-of-10 from 3-point range during that span. The hybrid forward is too physical for guards to handle defensively and can go around big men when they try to guard him because of his quickness. This is the epitome of a difficult match up.
  • Tony Bennett’s decision to bring Mike Tobey off the bench appears to be starting to pay major dividends. The 7-foot senior is averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds over his last two games while shooting an impressive 12-of-17 from the field during that span. The Cavaliers have won 11 straight games since losing at George Washington in November and are 12-1 overall.
  • Is the light officially going on for VCU’s JeQuan Lewis? Time will tell. The mercurial point guard had a real difficult stretch last month, but has tallied 16 assists and just four turnovers in his last two games. If Lewis continues to play at this type of a level the Rams will have a chance to compete for an NCAA bid in Will Wade’s first season as head coach.
  • You could see down the stretch of West Virginia’s double-overtime win at Kansas State on Saturday that the Mountaineers really miss Juwan Staten. Bob Huggins’ squad has depth, toughness, and togetherness, but they still lack a go-to scorer that could get them a bucket when they needed one. West Virginia (12-1) next travels to TCU Monday.


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