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Terrapins among early title contenders

Maryland is one of the favorites to win the 2016 men's basketball national championship, according to a Las Vegas sportsbook, only one year removed from joining the Big Ten from the ACC.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has the Terps pegged as a 7-1 co-favorite to win the title, along with Kentucky and North Carolina. Kansas is next at 12-1, followed by Iowa State (15-1) and defending champion Duke (18-1).

Maryland reached the NCAA round of 32 before losing to West Virginia in March, finishing with a 28-7 record (14-4 Big Ten). But Maryland returns a national player of the year candidate in sophomore guard Melo Trimble (16.2 PPG, 3.0 APG) and top rebounder Jake Layman (5.8 RPG) and added the No. 2 center in the ESPN 100 rankings in 6-foot-10Diamond Stoneand Duke senior transfer wing Rasheed Sulaimon. The Terps opened at 10-1 and moved to 7-1 with the addition of Sulaimon.

The Terrapins will be the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten and a candidate with North Carolina and Kansas, likely, for the No. 1 preseason ranking. Maryland will play at North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, face nearby rival Georgetown in the Dave Gavitt Tipoff Games between the Big Ten and Big East and face UConn in the Jimmy V Classic in New York City in the Terps' highest-profile nonconference games.

Maryland last won the national title in 2002 under Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams.

Coach Mark Turgeon, who replaced Williams, took over at Maryland in 2011, and the trip to the NCAA tournament in March was Turgeon's first with the Terps. He led Texas A&M to the NCAA tournament in all four seasons he spent in College Station and took Wichita State to the Sweet 16 in 2006.

California, with its elite recruiting class led byJaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, has seen the biggest improvement in its odds. The Bearswere 100-1 when the SuperBook opened its college basketball odds April 20. The Bears are now 50-1.

Florida, with the loss of coach Billy Donovan, saw its odds fall from 40-1 to 100-1. Donovan left to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA. Florida hired former Louisiana Tech coach Mike White as Donovan's replacement.


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