1. Since the last IU game, the Hoosiers and Terps have had similar stretches. Both have suffered double-digit losses on the road while getting close single-digit victories at home. What does Maryland need to do in its final 7 games to be fully prepared for what should be its first NCAA tournament berth in the Turgeon era?
In short, Maryland needs to do the things it was doing before getting thrashed in Bloomington at the end of January. The Terps' offense has stalled, and the defense has broken down too often against opponents who aren't, on the whole, supposed to be better than Maryland. If there were only one or two things to fix up down the stretch, Mark Turgeon would have a far easier job than he actually does. But getting the ball into the right players' hands instead of running constant isolation plays on offense seems like a good starting point.
2. Dez Wells missed seven games back in November and December due to broken wrist. As a senior shooting guard, how has his presence affected the the Terps this season, and did his play suffer at all after the injury?
This is a tough question. On the surface, Wells should absolutely be the Terps' star, having been their best player the last two seasons and sticking around as the elder statesman in a young rotation this year. But that hasn't been how it's gone. Despite a couple of nice showings recently, Wells is having the worst season of his career, and he's taking more shots than ever at a time when they'd probably be better off coming from Melo Trimble or Jake Layman, two of the most efficient players in the league.
Like you mentioned, though, Wells has had some injury problems, and it's hard not to assess that they've bothered his play, even though he denies that they have. Just by looking at his shooting splits, Wells's biggest drop-off has come on two-pointers - he's actually been tremendous from three-point range and fine at the foul line. But he's not a prototypical system player, and he's tried too often to beat defenders on his own and score on the drive. The problem, of course, is that those defenders are usually the opposition's best. The results haven't been what Maryland needs them to be by March.
3. As a former DC resident, I remember hearing some complaints about attendance at Xfinity Center (then known as Comcast Center) during ACC games that weren't against UNC or Duke. How has the fan attendance been in College Park during the inaugural B1G season? And what type of crowd should IU expect for a 9pm Wednesday night start?
Student tickets are sold out for Wednesday, and my educated guess is that the building should be full. I don't know anything for sure, but a conference game of this magnitude at this point in the season should draw well, especially given Indiana's relative popularity as a national property.
For the most part, I think turnout has been fine. I wouldn't say it's been good, because a couple of seemingly attractive games haven't been enough to prevent a lot of patrons from dressing up like red seats at the games. The crowds are better than last year, but that has more to do with Maryland being ostensibly good than it does the new slate of opponents, which helped more in football than it ever could in basketball.
4. Football talk: how do Terps fans feel about the incoming recruiting class after National Signing Day? And just a fair warning: IU hoops also had a recruiting class known as the #TheMovement, but other than Yogi and Hanner, none of those players are still in Bloomington.
Maryland's class is OK, but no one seems to be talking about the fact that three teams in the Terps' six-team Big Ten division had markedly better classes, and one more (Michigan) just hired a coach who will clean up on the trail for all eternity. The Terps put together the 40th-or-so best-ranked group in college football, but that only takes you so far when you're thoroughly out-recruited by your divisional competition. Next year seems to be Randy Edsall's best shot at leveling up. As you alluded to, the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area has a lot of top-flight talent coming out of high school, including a likely program-altering quarterback, Dwayne Haskins. In this circumstance, Edsall can't afford to miss.
Basketball-wise, Maryland and Indiana's 2012 recruiting classes have lived out parallel histories. If you dig in, it's almost uncanny how similarly those groups worked out. While 247 Sports rated Indiana's class eighth that year, it rated Maryland's 14th. The Terps had four players coming in: big men Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, guard Seth Allen and Layman, a forward. Cleare busted completely, and he transferred away along with Mitchell and Allen - and two others - after last season. The only guy left is Layman, who's become just as vital to Maryland's fortunes as Ferrell is to Indiana's.
Turgeon and Tom Crean have probably had a good chuckle about it, if I had to guess.
5. Prediction time: Who wins the IU-MD rematch in College Park, and by how much?
Last time we chatted, I had Maryland winning narrowly on the road. I'll pick the visitor again here, although I'm a tad conflicted. Indiana's struggled a good deal, I understand, but Maryland sits 10 points and one near-impossible comeback away from having gone 0-5 in its last five games with two home losses to Northwestern and Penn State. They've been putrid, and even though they've held court at home all season - save for a December loss to Virginia, who beats everyone - I don't feel right picking Maryland to beat a tough opponent right now. I'll take Indiana, 59-54, in a game shorter on offense than most probably expect.
Thanks again, Alex! The Terps and Hoosiers tip off tomorrow night at 9pm from the Xfinity Center in College Park. Coverage will be on BTN.