Maryland-Northern Iowa Preview: Terps Look to Advance to Finals of Paradise Jam

Kevin C. Cox

After winning their opening round game against Marist, the Terps look to advance to Monday's final in the Paradise Jam.

After downing Marist 68-43 on Friday, the Maryland men's basketball team looks to advance to the Paradise Jam finals as they take on Northern Iowa Sunday evening in St. Thomas. After their win on Friday, the team spent Saturday morning enjoying snorkeling in the tropical waters of the Caribbean.

Here is a nice little graphic that sums up some of the highlights from Friday's win:

Quick Rundown:

  • Opponent - Northern Iowa Panthers
  • Location - Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • Colors - Purple & Gold
  • Enrollment - 12,159
  • Conference - Missouri Valley Conference

Perimeter Defense:

The Northern Iowa Panthers defeated Loyola Marymount on Friday, 90-81, behind a strong three-point shooting performance. NIU shot 21 threes in the game, making 12 of them (57%), including 10/14 in the first half. They've lived and died by the three point basket this season, shooting 41% (19/46) from beyond the arc when they win and just 28% (12/43) in their two loses. So that means Maryland could be in trouble Sunday, right? Maybe.

According to Kenpom.com, Maryland ranks 326th out of 351 Division 1 teams when it comes to the percentage of three pointers allowed. The Terps are allowing their opponents to make 43.8% of their three point attempts in 2013, putting Maryland below the likes of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Arkansas Pine Bluff, and virtually every other team in D-1. But the more important statistic to examine, according to KenPom, is the 3PA%, which is the percentage of shots that a team attempts that are three point attempts. The reasoning is that the best defense against three pointers is preventing teams from taking them. So if you're only allowing teams to attempt 10 threes per game, that is a better measure of your team's defense than if they make fifty percent of those ten attempts. So where does Maryland rank in 3PA? A much better 107th out of 351, with opponents attempting 29.9% of their shots from behind the arc. Northern Iowa is right behind at 122nd.

So if Maryland can limit Northern Iowa from attempting three pointers, they could be in good shape. Unfortunately, shooting threes is something the Panthers like to do, so that might be a problem for Maryland.

Advantage - Northern Iowa

Starters:

Northern Iowa starters:

The Panthers have a very balanced offensive attack, with four starters who average double-digit points per game. They're led by guard Deon Mitchell, who leads the team in scoring but is also a decent ball distributor when running point, but is prone to turnovers, leading the team with 2.3 per game. Maryland will likely counter with Dez Wells, Nick Faust, Jake Layman, Shaq Cleare, and Roddy Peters.

The Terps should have some size advantages, but need to not commit sloppy turnovers on the offensive end. Additionally, forcing Washpun to commit turnovers and turning those into points will be key for Maryland to win on Sunday.

Advantage: Maryland

Bench Players:

When you're playing in a tournament that requires a team to play multiple games in a number of days, the depth of a team's bench can make of break them as the tournament wears on. For NIU, they typically have four players who come off their bench and contribute:
Maryland's bench has been very productive this season, especially behind the play of Charles Mitchell. With Evan Smotrycz going to the bench in favor of Roddy Peters starting, it should provide the Terps with even more bench contributions.

Advantage: Maryland

Prediction:

This game should be a good test for Maryland. Can their perimeter defense limit the Panthers' number of three point attempts? Will Maryland be able to keep up from beyond the arc? KenPom lists Maryland as a 68% favorite to win this game, 74-69. I think the Terps should win, but I agree with KenPom in that it will be close. Terps pull out the W in a squeaker, 75-71.

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