Game Info / How to Watch:
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (11-5, #27 KenPom) at Maryland Terrapins (14-2, #55 KenPom)
When? Tuesday, January 10th, 9:00 PM, ESPN
Where? XFINITY Center, College Park, Maryland
Vegas? INDIANA -1
Pomeroy? Indiana by 1, 52% chance of Indiana victory
Three weeks ago, you could have looked ahead to this matchup with Maryland and thought that this would be a nice little test, an opportunity to see if this team has grown since the Fort Wayne debacle, and one that you'd like to have but probably don't need.
Now? Quite simply, this game is a turning point. It seems that way at least. The struggles out of the gate in Big Ten play dug an 0-2 hole that, most seasons, would seem to be an insurmountable roadblock on the path to a conference championship. But, under the unique circumstances that include one of those losses coming to a Nebraska team that almost-certainly won't maintain its early conference success and a fairly mediocre Big Ten, that may not be the case this season.
Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Nebraska all sit atop the Big Ten at 3-1. The Hoosiers will get Michigan State and Minnesota once each, and, again, you have to expect Nebraska to fall off sometime in the very near future. Add in two games against Purdue and another one with Wisconsin (currently 2-1 in conference play) and Indiana still controls its own destiny in the Big Ten race, unless the Huskers can go about 14-4 in Big Ten play.
What we're trying to say is that there's a chance, and it is not a far-fetched one. But those chances could go by the wayside if the Hoosiers cannot come up with a big road win at Maryland on Tuesday night. With a win on Tuesday, Indiana likely would be 4-2 when they host Michigan State in a week and a half and those of us/you who are eternally optimistic/dumb might look ahead and see this team at 8-2 when they head to Madison looking for revenge. A loss on Tuesday, though, would drop them to 1-3, raise some serious questions about whether this team can win on the road, and put a 2-4 start into play with a trip to the sleepy Bryce Jordan Center.
The bottom line is that far earlier than we would have ever expected, the Hoosiers are playing in a must-win ballgame.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#9 Adj. Offense)||58.5 (5th)||41.3 (4th)||104.7 (161st)||1.24 years (309th)|
|MARYLAND (#53 Adj. Defense)||46.0 (50th)||30.3 (202nd)||105.2 (130th)||1.16 years (318th)
|INDIANA (#94 Adj. Defense)||45.7 (37th)||27.0 (71st)||104.7 (161st)||1.24 years (309th)|
|MARYLAND (#78 Adj. Offense)||52.2 (106th)||31.9 (110th)||105.2 (130th)||1.16 years (318th)
We usually like to show you performance stats only. But given that this is Indiana's first true road game (Fort Wayne was in front of an 80%-pro Hoosiers crowd), two other stats seemed relevant.
Indiana is one of the most inexperienced teams in the country, with an average of 1.24 years experience per player. Add in the abysmal strength of schedule that comes from scheduling Central Basketweaving A&M State and there is incredible cause for concern with this team going on the road. But it might not be as bad as one would expect. Maryland has the same problems, themselves. They are less experienced than Indiana, somehow, and played an almost-equally pitiful schedule.
Prior to Big Ten play, the Terps played three Top-100 teams, the best being Oklahoma State (29th in KenPom at the time of the game). Their other non-conference opponents? 305, not Division-I, 166, 239, 116, 337, 185, 199, and 217, respectively, in Ken Pom at the time of the game. Maryland's reward? A home loss to Nebraska. Sound familiar?
Perhaps the schedule doesn't matter as much now that we are three games into the Big Ten schedule and both teams have played quality opponents for a few weeks. But experience? We already saw what happens when Indiana plays on the road against a team with some experience. Fort Wayne's roster averages 1.99 years experience and ranks 81st in the country. Indiana's only loss to a more experienced team came to Wisconsin, which not only has a roster average of more than two years experience, but that experience is Final Four and deep tournament experience. It may be a blessing for the Hoosiers that this first road game will come against a team that isn't familiar with winning because they aren't even familiar with playing.
As for on the court, Maryland is pretty average. Their defense is above-average, but they don't close out possessions particularly well, sporting a 30.3% offensive rebound rate against. Offensively, nothing jumps off the page.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
- Indiana vs. Everyone but Melo Trimble: The one thing we all know about Maryland is that Melo Trimble can be a problem for any team. For a team with no real point guard? Trimble could have a big night. He's averaging 17.5 PPG this season and is the unquestioned leader for the Terps. But no one else on the Maryland roster is averaging more than 10 PPG and Trimble has done a poor job of getting them involved. Even though he is only averaging three turnovers per game, Trimble's assist-to-turnover ratio is less than 1:1. For Indiana, the key just might be preventing Trimble from letting the others get involved even if it means a big night from the Maryland point guard.
- Justin Jackson vs. (Fill in the blank): Maryland's freshman forward is a little bit of a renaissance man. He's the second leading scorer at 10.8 PPG and has pulled down 19 more rebounds than anyone else on the roster. At 6'7", and shooting 43.5% from behind the arc (20-for-46), Jackson seems like a matchup for Juwan Morgan and O.G. Anunoby, but don't be surprised to see Thomas Bryant or De'Ron Davis get a crack at Jackson if the Terps go small. Either way, the challenge will be for Morgan or Anunoby to keep Jackson off the boards or for Bryant or Davis to defend him away from the basket.
- Offensive Rebounding: Before the Illinois game, Kyle Swick said of the Hoosiers' offensive rebounding, "It's literally the only thing currently working for Indiana. Their ability to gather in their misses (of which there are plenty as of late) helps mitigate their poor shooting and their turnovers to a certain extent." Against Maryland, offensive rebounding may be as important as it has been all season. As shown by the stats above, Maryland does a pretty good job defending shots but allows far too many offensive rebounds, which Indiana excels at grabbing. In a close game, the difference will be whether the Hoosiers get second chance opportunities and points.