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Maryland vs. Fordham preview: Terps host talented, struggling Rams

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The Terps take another slight step up in competition against the A-10 Rams.

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

So far, Maryland has played a team not expected to compete in a lower-tier conference (Wagner, NEC) and a team expected to compete in a lower-tier conference (Central Connecticut State, NEC). Thursday, they take the next logical step up when they host the Fordham Rams in College Park. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET in College Park, and will be broadcast on BTN Plus.

The Rams play in the Atlantic-10, one of the top mid-major conferences in the nation. They're not expected to play a big factor in the league (KenPom predicts a 6-12 league record), but they are expected to pose a slightly stiffer test for the Terps: they rank No. 166 in KenPom's rankings, compared to No. 250 for Wagner and No. 253 in CCSU.

Fordham is 1-1 this season, with a 94-77 victory over Division II NYIT followed by a 73-54 loss to Penn State. We asked our good friend Chad Markulics from Black Shoe Diaries, SB Nation's Penn State blog, for his read on the Rams:

They like to jack on offense and don't play much defense -- Fordham gave up less than 70 just twice in A-10 play last year, dooming them to a last-place finish. Maryland shouldn't have much trouble based on what I saw at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Rams play man-to-man defense, but that didn't stop Maryland from going small in either of their first two games. Fordham is located in New York City -- the hometown of head coach Tom Pecora. After three NIT appearances in nine years at Hofstra, Pecora is in his fifth year at Fordham. His career record at the school is 35-85, winning a tenure-high 10-games twice.

Fordham has a very, very young team, so it's hard to get too good of a read on them, but we'll try our best:

Players to know

Jon Severe, sophomore, 6'2 guard. You'd think, looking at how Fordham has performed over the past few seasons, where they're expected to be this year and how they've performed so far this year, that this lower-tier A-10 team doesn't have much talent. You'd be wrong! Severe is one of two pretty highly recruited players on the roster (we'll talk about the other in a minute), spurning offers from West Virginia, Alabama, Pitt and Wake Forest as a high three-star prospect out of New York.

As a freshman, Severe was the team's primary three-point taker. He didn't make that many (34.2%), but he made enough to score 17.3 points per game. Severe missed the opener against NYIT with a suspension, and then played 11 scoreless minutes against Penn State, missing all five of his shots and turning it over three times.

Eric Paschall, freshman, 6'6 small forward. Paschall, a three-/four-star prospect out of Connecticut, picked Fordham over VCU, West Virginia, Providence and George Mason. Against NYIT, he scored a team-high 31 points (making four of eight three-point attempts) with five rebounds. Against Penn State, he was held to seven points with four turnovers before fouling out after 19 minutes. He was named A-10 Rookie of the Week for his efforts.

Christian Sengfelder, freshman, 6'7 forward. An intriguing prospect from Germany, Sengfelder is the only player who has scored double-digits in both of the Rams' first two games. He's 6'7 but is able to hit from three, and could provide an interesting challenge for Jake Layman (if that's who he ends up matching up with).

Nemanja Zarkovic, freshman, 6'3 guard. A Canadian prospect, Zarkovic had six assists against NYIT and made a pair of three pointers against Penn State.

Ryan Rhoomes, junior, 6'8 forward. Rhoomes was one of the most efficient players offensively in the nation last season, making an astonishing 66.7% of his two-point attempts. He also turned the ball over just 0.5 times per game, and was an excellent rebounder (13.3 OR%, 18.3 DR%) and shot blocker (4.1 BLK%).

Strengths:

Shot-blocking. Between Rhoomes, Manny Suarez and Bryan Smith, the Rams have three very capable shot-blockers who can alter shots on the interior.

Rebounding. The Rams have a number of players between 6'6 and 6'9, and they can all rebound pretty well. Maryland hasn't done a great job on the boards through two games, so this will be an interesting test for Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky.

Weaknesses:

Inexperience. Most of Fordham's key players are freshmen or sophomores, and turnover issues have sprung up early as a result.

Shooting. Despite their talent, the Rams have been absolutely awful from the floor through two games (29.0% from two, 29.6% from three).

Predictions:

KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 82-67. The Terps are given a 91% chance of winning.

Our prediction: Maryland, 85-62.