GAME INFO / HOW TO WATCH:
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (24-6 (14-3), #13 KenPom) vs. Maryland Terrapins (24-6 (12-5), #21 KenPom)
When? Sunday, March 6th, 4:30 PM, CBS
Pomeroy? INDIANA by 6, 69% (nice) chance of Indiana victory
It's going to be an emotional evening in Assembly Hall. A sold-out crowd will be saying goodbye to a senior class that managed to secure the program's second outright conference title in four years, an appropriate bookend for the group's only four-year Hoosier player: Yogi Ferrell. We've already discussed the best moment in the five players' careers and much of the next couple of days will be filled with discussions of their individual legacies.
But before we can unpack too much of that, there is a game to be won on Sunday. No, it won't determine Indiana's conference finish, but it gives Indiana its last guaranteed opportunity to impress the selection committee. The Hoosiers have been a different team since the calendar turned to 2016, but it is still carrying the weight of an awful, awful 2015; and they can further absolve themselves of losses to UNLV and Wake Forest by adding Maryland's
pelt shell to their collection.
It's the only meeting between the Terps and the Hoosiers this season after playing three times last year. A victory would give Indiana a 5-2 record over the top six teams in the conference, and open the door to move up as high as a 2-seed for March Madness. It would also preserve the joint undefeated-at-Assembly-Hall-streak currently being enjoyed by the men's and women's programs this year.
Let's dig in.
HERE, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#9 Adj. Offense)||58.9% (2nd)||19.8% (278th)||37.5% (14th)||32.7% (274th)|
|MARYLAND (#19 Adj. Defense)||45.9% (30th)||16.6% (270th)||29.3% (149th)||26.4% (11th)|
|INDIANA (#69 (nice) Adj. Defense)||49.5% (156th)||18.9% (127th)||28.5% (113th)||29.9% (44th)|
|MARYLAND (#34 Adj. Offense)||55.8% (11th)||19.3% (252nd)||29.9% (171st)||36.2% (186th)|
Maryland has a had a somewhat disappointing year, as many projected them to win the Big Ten title behind Melo Trimble and looked poised to do just that, with a 10-2 record and big wins over Iowa and Purdue. But after a non-conference game against Bowie State dropped right into the middle of their conference season, Trimble began to slump and Maryland lost three of their next four, taking them out of contention for the conference title. Trimble appears to be breaking out of his slump at the right time, pouring in 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals against Illinois in a home game against Illinois.
Trimble isn't the only thing going for Maryland, but much like Yogi with the Hoosiers, him playing at the top of his game makes the Terrapins a very, very tough out. They play one of the tighter rotations in the country, with the vast majority of the available minutes going to seven guys. Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon is hitting 45.6% of his treys; freshman star Diamond Stone has enjoyed a similar campaign to Thomas Bryant; Jake Layman remains one of the most well-rounded scorers in the league; and Robert Carter provides more multi-dimensional scoring along and ferocity on the boards. The Terrapins' also have a talented shooter coming off the bench in Jared Nickens, but he's only hitting 28.1% from long-range in the conference season after hitting 40% as a freshman in B1G games.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH FOR:
- Yogi Ferrell (stud) vs. Melo Trimble (stud): What makes this game against Maryland so compelling are the numerous 1-on-1 matchups these rosters produce. These are two of the best point guards in the country, and the two very best in the B1G (depending on how loosely you use the term "point guard" when talking about Denzel Valentine), and it has been a matchup that Yogi has enjoyed the upper hand in. In his three games against the Hoosiers, Trimble has averaged 15.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.0 APG but has hit 6 of 11 three-point shots and won two of the three meetings. Yogi has averaged 21.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 4.7 APG and hit 15 of 24 three-pointers, but missed a game-winner on the road and hasn't beaten the Terrapins away from Assembly Hall.
- Thomas Bryant (freshman stud) vs. Diamond Stone (freshman stud): As much hype as the backcourt matchup is going to get (all deserved) the battle of the two freshman down low may have an even greater impact on the game. Bryant is the more efficient scorer and has shown some perimeter ability but Stone has shown far superior prowess when it comes to blocking and drawing fouls. Perhaps more importantly, Stone stays out of foul trouble for the most part while Bryant seems to start each game with a foul already. Bryant's ability to stay on the court to help neutralize Stone will likely be a huge factor in the game's outcome. Both are prolific on the offensive boards, ranking in the top-6 in the B1G.
- Turnovers: Neither team is particularly adept at taking care of the ball, as they occupy the last two spots in TO% among B1G teams. But while Indiana mitigates it somewhat by forcing opponent turnovers, the Terrapins are among the worst teams in the country at creating them. Contrary to popular belief, TO% on offense hasn't shown to be much of a correlation for Indiana's success or failure this season, but they are 19-2 when their opponents turn it over on at least 16.5% of their possessions. Strangely enough, Maryland is 23-4 when they turn it over on 14.0% of their possessions or more, showing two offenses that are good enough on the possessions when they don't turn it over to afford a sizable amount of miscues.
- Indiana's 2PT% (1st in B1G) vs. Maryland d2PT% (2nd in B1G): Speaking of correlation to victory, nothing is more indicative of a Hoosier victory than their 2PT%. The Hoosiers are 5-5 when they hit less than 52% of their 2PT attempts and 19-1 when they hit higher than that (the lone loss coming at Duke). Maryland has excellent length at every position, so Indiana will have to use a lot of off-the-ball motion to get good looks close to the rim. Naturally, a great night from beyond the arc will really open up the paint and perhaps the Terrapins will over-extend early based on the Hoosiers' reputation alone.
WILL THEY PLAY?
Indiana has two crucial injuries as the postseason looms with Robert Johnson's ankle and Juwan Morgan's shoulder. With the title in hand and Maryland not a do-or-die game for the Hoosier's conference title hopes, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see them both sit out again to be certain they're ready to go when the games really count. Tom Crean has gone on record saying that Juwan Morgan should be available for this weekend's contest but continues to stress that Johnson's ankle sprain remains a day-to-day thing. Sunday will be over two full weeks since the injury and even if RoJo misses this game, I'm hard-pressed to imagine a simple sprain keeps him out of a Big Ten Tournament game next Friday.