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Looking Ahead to Indiana-Maryland

After the week that was on the hardwood, I really didn't think I would be looking forward to basketball again, but lo and behold, I am. Maryland returns to play with their matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and they got a pretty nice draw.

Indiana's probably a bottom three (maybe two, because no one is worse than Iowa this year) in the Big Ten, and that's saying a lot. This team is better than any team Maryland's beaten so far, but far worse than the teams they've lost to.

The Hoosiers are 3-3 right now, with losses to some very average teams - George Mason, Boston, and Ole Miss. These aren't the Hoosiers of old, not yet at least.

Just because they're not great doesn't mean they don't have some dangerous players. Jeremiah Rivers and Maurice Creek, both newcomers to Bloomington, can definitely cause some problems for Maryland. Rivers, the brother of Austin Rivers and son of Doc Rivers, is the team leader in points and assists. He's a big PG at 6-5, meaning Greivis Vasquez won't have his usual height advantage at the one. Rivers can use that to his advantage and frustrate an already struggling Vasquez.

Creek's a true freshman that Maryland recruited. He's a pure scorer - not the most amazing stroke, not overwhelming athleticism, but an understanding of the offensive game that allows him to score consistently. He's earned a starting spot and is leading the Hoosiers in scoring despite ranking fourth on the team in minutes. I'm assuming Sean Mosley will match up with him, and that'll be an entertaining matchup.

One area Indiana can exploit is Maryland's lack of size. They have three servicable big men in sophomore Tom Pritchard and freshmen Derek Elston and Christian Watford. Watford is the best of the trio and was a top 50 player last year; he's more of a 3/4 combo, but can play either in a pinch, especially against Landon Milbourne. He tends to be more of a slasher, and he'll probably overpower Maryland's undersized 3s when he lines up there.

Pritchard and Elston split the remaining big man minutes, and have varying games. Elston is an ultra-physical bull of a player, limited technically but stronger (pound for pound) and more aggressive than anyone else on the floor. Pritchard is very big and bulky, and he puts his size to good use. He tends to fade down the stretch due to being so big; calling him a more developed version of Jordan Williams isn't a stretch.

As a team, Indiana doesn't slow it down as much as you might expect, being from the Big Ten. They're not run-and-gun by any stretch, but there's not a big difference between Maryland's and Indiana's pace. They're a solid team from 3, but they don't take a lot of them. They're a better team than Maryland at rebounding, but not, say, Cincy-level.

I'm calling a medium-sized Maryland win in this one: Terps 75, Hoosiers 68.