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Game Preview: Maryland Terrapins

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The Terps' first trip to Bloomington as a member of the Big Ten might signal the beginning of a rivalry for two programs with a shared past.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The MARYLAND FIGHTING TERRAPINS come to Assembly Hall Thursday evening. Let's GAME PREVIEW.

What You Need To Know

WHAT: #8 Maryland at #23 Indiana

WHERE: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN

WHEN: 9pm EST

WATCH: ESPNU, WatchESPN

THE GAME NARRATIVE: "A New Era Rivalry"

For the better part of history, rivalry has been born out of geography. A simple shared state-line or common turf can be enough to inspire a deep-seeded disdain for another competing institution. That's exactly how the previous incarnation of the Big Ten was constructed -- on regional rivalries between schools at most a half-day's drive from one another. Alumni share common office & living spaces in the cities of the region. There is a natural, omnipresent tension between fans of Indiana and Purdue basketball -- one that cannot and will not be lessened by the quality of the on-court product. It's about bragging rights over your wife, brother-in-law, guy-down-the-street -- quality of play be damned. Both teams could finish dead near last in the conference and one fan base will still take some solace that "Hey, at least we beat (insert geographic, traditional rival here)."

But maybe that's not what a basketball rivalry should be. Maybe, in the era of conference realignment, that's not enough to keep a matchup compelling for a natural audience.

Maybe it should be more like what Indiana and Maryland will bring to the court on Thursday evening.

Two proud programs forever tied together by the 2002 National Championship game. The old-money, dusted-banner grandfather of Big Ten basketball versus the longtime ACC antagonist. Isaiah v. Len. Calbert vs. Joe Smith. Two schools battling over the same recruiting territory. Two coaches scorned by fans for the majority of the season. Two programs attempting to return to the former glory of previous regimes. That right there's enough for a compelling storyline between two foes.

But all of that is near-ancient history. What Indiana-Maryland means going forward will be built off of this one single meeting. The first conference matchup between two top 25 teams that play both play an incredibly attractive, offense-first type of basketball. A contest with Big Ten conference supremacy on the line -- featuring two dynamic freshman with the ability to make onlookers forget what that moniker means.

This is the game of the year in the Big Ten to date. And one that will set the course for what could become one of the Big Ten's best rivalries between traditional powers with a shared history in the new era of the conference.

THE N-N-N-NUMBERS NEVER LIE. WELL, SOMETIMES, MAYBE.

MARYLAND
Offense Rank Defense Rank
Effective FG%: 51.6 68 43 16
Turnover %: 18.4 104 17.6 282
Off. Reb. %: 31.1 171 28.9 87
FTA/FGA: 49.1 9 26.1 11
INDIANA
Offense Rank Defense Rank
Effective FG%: 55.1 17 47.6 131
Turnover %: 16.8 39 15.8 338
Off. Reb. %: 34.7 67 33 246
FTA/FGA: 37.7 166 26.3 12

Two things stick out here. First, the numbers say that you should keep an eye on how Maryland chooses to defend Indiana's high-powered-at-times offensive attack. The Hoosiers rank 17th in the nation in effective FG%, while the Terps are allowing opponents to only shoot an effective rate of 43% from the field -- 16th best in the country. If the effective numbers aren't for you, Maryland still leads the conference in both field goal percentage defense and three-point percentage defense. It's a classic matchup of the conference's best offense versus its best defending team. That should be concerning for Tom Crean coming into tomorrow's matchup.

Secondly, Maryland gets to the foul line a lot. That's a big deal, but the cause of that statistic should bring more alarm for Indiana fans. Turgeon's Terps love to drive and attack the rim. Without Hanner Perea, Indiana lacks a post presence to disrupt shots at the rim. Wellll now Kyle Hanner really wasn't that big of a pla--

Yes, he was. Maryland likes to drive and attack the rim. Lesser opponents have been shooting at a clip of EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT AT THE RIM without him. This is not a good thing, and should concern you deeply if you are an Indiana basketball fan.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • Melo Trimble is sooooooooo very good, and he's going to get his. Don't expect the freshman to get rattled in Assembly Hall in a primetime game on national television. He's already made trips to East Lansing, Champaign, West Lafayette, and Stillwater, Oklahoma. Trimble will get his points, just hope he doesn't do this in the process:

  • Jake Layman is the Big Ten Player of the Week, and will present matchup problems for Indiana...sometimes. Layman dropped 23 on Tom Izzo and Michigan State on Saturday. He'll look to do the same on a smaller Indiana team on Thursday evening. But there's some good news for Indiana: Troy Williams should draw the defensive assignment for the Hoosiers -- and he'll have an athletic advantage over Layman.
  • Who steps up for Indiana down low in place of Perea? As mentioned, Maryland loves to drive the basketball and score points at the rim. It might be a breakout opportunity for the long wingspan of Holt, who clearly has the ability to play above his size around the rim. Or will Tom Crean go with other options down low? Could Ryan Burton continue to see extended minutes against the Terps?