(All team rankings courtesy KenPom)
Maryland's first opportunity for a notable win is finally here, as the Terps travel to Kansas City for the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. The Terrapins play Arizona State at 7 p.m. ET Monday, and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU. If they win, they'll likely play Iowa State in the final. If they lose, it's probably Alabama in the consolation matchup.
Arizona State made the NCAA Tournament last season as a No. 10 seed, losing in the first round to Texas. They won 21 games in the regular season, including a victory over Arizona, and finished fifth in the Pac-12. This Sun Devils team is nearly unrecognizable from that one, however: five players graduated, three transferred and Jahii Carson left for the NBA. All told, Arizona State's top three scorers are gone, with four new transfers in.
The No. 67 Sun Devils have played an easier schedule than No. 25 Maryland to date, and haven't been quite as dominant as the Terps -- but have impressed on defense. Arizona State beat No. 321 Chicago State 86-50, No. 336 Bethune-Cookman 49-39 and No. 225 Loyola Marymount 68-44. That Bethune-Cookman result stands out a bit, but even with their offensive struggles they still managed to hold a Division I team to under 40 points.
Arizona State is coached by Herb Sendek, who Maryland fans may remember from his decade-long stint with NC State. Sendek ended his stint with the Wolfpack with five straight trips to the dance, and has made two tournament appearances in eight years with the Sun Devils (one with Carson, one with James Harden). It does not appear Arizona State has a scoring power like that this year -- their leading scorer is averaging 10.3 points per game -- but their defense could help them pull off some upsets.
Players to know
Eric Jacobsen, junior, 6'10 forward. Jacobsen is averaging nearly a double-double so far this season, with 9.3 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game. He's also been one of the leading shot-blockers in the country so far this season, averaging 3.0 blocks per game. Considering Maryland's questions in the post, Jacobsen's role could play a vital part in deciding the winner of the game.
Shaquielle McKissic, senior, 6'5 guard/forward. McKissic is the aforementioned team leader at 10.3 points per game, shooting 71.4% from two and 45.5% from three. He hasn't been taking all that many shots -- just six per game -- but was the team's most efficient player offensively last season and could have the makings of a real top scorer if he starts playing a more active role in the offense.
Gerry Blakes, junior, 6'4 guard. One of the aforementioned new faces, Blakes transferred in from a California JuCo. He's tied with McKissic for the team lead in shots taken, but he's playing about nine less minutes per game. He's been a heavy volume shooter off the bench, but is shooting just 33.3% from the floor.
Jonathan Gilling, senior, 6'7 forward. Gilling was the team's leading three-point shooter last year (43.4% on 152 attempts) and has kept that up so far this season. He's seven of 13 from beyond the arc so far this season but hasn't been able to consistently hold on to the ball, averaging 2.7 turnovers per game.
Willie Atwood, junior, 6'8 small forward. Another JuCo transfer, Atwood has been a solid rebounding and defensive presence for the Sun Devil while also getting to the line consistently. The issue has been when he's gotten there: he's shooting 38.5% from the free throw line.
Tra Holder, freshman, 6'1 point guard. Along with Atwood, Holder is the only rotation player with an offensive rating below 100. The young point guard has struggled this season, shooting 36.4% from the floor and averaging 3.0 turnovers per game against 2.3 assists. A four-star prospect out of California, the 247sports composite rated him as the 25th-best point guard in the nation. Melo Trimble was No. 5. The two will match up head-to-head Monday.
Perimeter defense. The Sun Devils can stop you just about anywhere, but they excel against the three-point shot. Opponents are shooting just 17.0% from deep this season against Arizona State, good for fourth in the country. Arizona State hasn't played shooters near the caliber of Maryland's -- the Terps will be the first top-200 three-point shooting team they've faced so far this season (Maryland ranks No. 43).
Getting to the line. Five different players have gone to the line at least 10 times this season. The only issue is...
Making free throws. Arizona State is shooting 63.2% from the free throw line. Most of it is bogged down by Atwood, but McKissic's six-of-10 line hasn't helped.
Turnovers. The transition to a freshman point guard has not gone so smoothly for the Sun Devils, and they're turning the ball over on more than a quarter of their possessions, ranking 316th in the nation.
KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 65-61. The Terps are given a 67% chance of winning.
Our prediction: Maryland, 67-59.