Maryland opened Big Ten play with a tough double overtime victory against Michigan State, and the Terps play their first home game in their new conference Saturday against Minnesota. The game will tip-off at 12 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. For streaming, check out BTN2Go.
The Gophers are 11-3 this season, ranking No. 29 in KenPom (Maryland ranks No. 21). Their only top-100 win came on a neutral court against No. 32 Georgia (66-62), with their next-best victory a 84-69 win at No. 122 Wake Forest. Minnesota's losses have come to No. 7 Louisville (81-68), No. 23 St. John's (70-61) and No. 82 Purdue (72-68) in their Big Ten opener Wednesday. All three of their losses have come on the road.
Minnesota is coached by Richard Pitino, the son of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. He's young, at just 32 years old, and spent time on his dad's staff with the Cardinals and Billy Donovan's staff at Florida before being hired as FIU's head coach prior to the 2012-13 season. After an 18-14 record in one year there, he was hired by Minnesota. Last season, his first with the Gophers, he led the team to 25 wins and an NIT championship.
Players to know
Maurice Walker, senior, 6'10. Walker's the team leading rebounder (5.6 per game), and while he's their third-leading scorer (12.0), he's playing a full seven minutes less per game than the top two scorers. Walker is an excellent defensive rebounder and shot blocker, is making 65.3% of his field goal attempts and shoots pretty well at the free throw line for a big man (71.1%).
Andre Hollins, senior, 6'2. The Gophers' leading scorer (13.2), Hollins has been the most prolific three-point shooter on the team this season. Most of his offensive value comes as a shooter, as he doesn't often get to the free throw line or grab offensive rebounds.
Deandre Mathieu, senior, 5'9. The team's point guard, Mathieu is second in the Big Ten with 6.2 assists per game. He's also made seven of 16 three-point attempts this season, and can score if he needs to.
Nate Mason, freshman, 6'1. The biggest contributor of Minnesota's freshman, Mason has proven to be a capable backup to Mathieu so far this season. He's second on the team in assists and steals per game, and has made 21 of his 45 three-point attempts this season. His 46.7% percentage from deep leads the team, and he could be a problem defensively for Maryland.
Depth. Five different players average double digit scoring for Minnesota, with a sixth (Mathieu) at 9.8 per game. They have a number of scoring options to choose from, and can frustrate opposing defenses in a similar way to Maryland with their variety on offense.
Forcing turnovers. Minnesota has four players who rank in the top 60 nationally in steal percentage, and rank second nationally as a team by getting a steal on 16.1% of opponent possessions. They rank third in opposing turnover percentage, forcing one on 27.3% of opponent possessions. They're a tough nut to crack on defense, but Maryland has faced some aggressive ones already this year.
Defensive rebounding. Walker is a skilled player on the defensive glass, but Minnesota has given up more offensive rebounds than they would have liked this season. Opponents are rebounding 32.9% of their missed shots against the Gophers (Minnesota ranks No. 238 in this category), even though they have some significant height in the frontcourt.
Free throw shooting. The Gophers are making just 65.8% of their free throws this season, ranking No. 256 in the nation. Only one player (Joey King) is shooting above 75%, while the two players who get to the line most (Walker and junior Carlos Morris) are shooting 71.1% and 72.7%, respectively.
KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 74-68. Terps given a 71% chance of winning.
Pete's prediction: Maryland, 78-70.