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Indiana men’s basketball: Previewing Maryland

A New Era in College Park

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana men’s basketball hits the road tomorrow to take on the Maryland Terrapins, who sit at 14-7 (5-5) under new coach Kevin Willard. Like Indiana, Maryland has played especially well over the last two weeks, a span in which they’ve gone 3-1.

Despite having a new coach, Maryland has defended its home court well so far this season, with its only home loss coming to number nine (then 16) UCLA earlier this year. On the other hand, its only road win came against Kenpom number 300 Lousiville.

Unfortunately, tomorrow’s game is in College Park, so the Hoosiers will have to try to become just the second team to win at the Xfinity Center this season. Both teams are part of the group of nine teams in the conference with either five or six wins and will be hoping to get some breathing room before tough stretches of Big Ten play.

Here’s what you need to know about Maryland:

The Wins

With the rest of the conference looking average, at best, Maryland’s best wins right now are probably Illinois and Ohio State. Both games were at home for the Terps, but by respectable margins - Illinois by 15 and Ohio State by seven.

Maryland’s wins against Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska don’t appear to hold a ton of weigh now, since none of the three seem tournament-bound. At the same time, the perfect home record in conference play suggests that Willard has this group ready to play for every home game.

The Terrapins have also won the first half in every one of those wins except the Ohio State game, which means Indiana cannot afford to come out to a sluggish start like it did at Minnesota last week. Another consistent feature of their home wins has been good defense, with Ohio State’s 73 points being the most any of those five Big Ten teams scored at the Xfinity Center.

The Losses

As mentioned above, Maryland has struggled on the road and dropped some games to the same struggling Big Ten teams that it beat at home. The Terps fell in a 65-59 and then were held to just 46 points in their next road game at Michigan, then 50 points at Rutgers.

Despite having a decent ranking (48th) in Kenpom’s offensive efficiency metric, Maryland has really struggled to score in each of its seven losses, with a 67 point performance against Iowa being its best losing effort.

That said, Maryland has pushed two very good teams to the brink in these low scoring affairs. Mark Willard almost got his first conference win in West Lafayette, of all places, taking Purdue down to the wire last Sunday before losing 58-55.

In a neutral site game at the Barclays arena, Maryland played Tennessee to a one possession game, losing 56-53 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational.

The Team

Maryland is currently turning in an Archie-Miller like performance from the 3-point line, shooting 30.7% as a team from deep. This is roughly equivalent to the 2018-19 Indiana teams, which finished over 300th in the category nationally.

Shooting problems aside, Maryland has had a pretty balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging over 10 points per game. Three of these players, Donta Scott, Julian Reese, and Hakim Hart, are in the 6’8”-6’9” range and rely almost entirely on 2-pointers for their scoring.

The offense is led by senior Jahmir Young, who transferred to Maryland after four seasons in Conference USA on the Charlotte 49ers. He leads Maryland with 16 points, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.

Given their length, the Terrapins have been able to defend the perimeter well, allowing just 30.8% from 3-point range on the season. Like a quintessential Big Ten team, they want to funnel things inside and force you to shoot over their height.

With this matchup, Indiana will likely need strong, disciplined performances from all of its bigs and wings. This could mean more minutes for Kaleb Banks, especially if Jordan Geronimo can’t go with his newly re-aggravated injury.

It still looks like a winnable game though, so long as Indiana comes ready to play for 40 minutes. Kenpom gives the Hoosiers a 45% chance of victory while Bart Torvik has it at 47%.