It's been a rocky week for Maryland after a three-game winning streak carried them to the top of the Big Ten standings. A road loss to Indiana was followed by a close home win over Northwestern, and the Terps dropped three spots in the AP Poll (and a handful in KenPom) during the stretch. They have a chance to make a better impression Thursday, when they travel to play Ohio State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, with streaming on WatchESPN.
The Buckeyes are 16-5 with a 5-3 record in conference play. They're ranked No. 20 in KenPom, compared to No. 29 for Maryland. Their best wins have come against No. 43 Indiana, on the road at No. 52 Minnesota and at home against No. 67 Illinois. Their three non-top-15 losses have come against No. 47 Iowa (twice) and Indiana. They're currently in fifth place in the conference.
Former Butler and Xavier head coach Thad Matta was hired at Ohio State prior to the 2004-05 season. After being ineligible for postseason play in his first season, the Buckeyes have made the NCAA Tournament eight out of the last nine years, including two Final Fours.
Players to know
D'Angelo Russell, freshman, 6'5. Yes, there's going to be another star freshman guard on the court. Russell has been scoring at a higher rate than Melo Trimble this season, averaging 19.4 points per game and shooting a killer 44.4 percent from outside. Russell is also a gifted passer, averaging 5.1 assists per game, and leads the team in rebounding (5.2 per game).
Marc Loving, sophomore, 6'7. Ohio State's second leading scorer (11.3 per game), Loving has been their most efficient offensive player this season (at least going by ORtg). He's been an excellent three-point shooter (nailing half of his 74 attempts), rarely turns over the ball and is a good free throw shooter.
Shannon Scott, senior, 6'1. Perhaps the conference's best distributor, Scott is averaging 6.7 assists per game this season. While he's been shooting poorly from three (25.5 percent), he's not an incapable scorer, either. He shoots pretty well close to the basket, and gets enough steals (2.0 per game) to make himself a fast break threat often.
Amir Williams, senior, 6'11. Williams didn't play at all against that small Indiana team, but faced with Damonte Dodd and Maryland's towering (but struggling) frontcourt, expect the tallest Buckeye to play a role. He's averaging 6.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
Sam Thompson, senior, 6'7. Watch out, because this dude can fly. He's shooting an abysmal 20.4 percent from three but is scoring 10.1 points per game in large part due to his ability to drive inside and slam it home.
Shooting. The Buckeyes shoot 50.9 percent from the floor, the third-best rate in the nation. Part of this is because they don't take as many three-pointers as other schools, but Ohio State has a number of excellent shooters both on the inside and outside.
Aggressive defense. Bad news! Ohio State plays a lot of zone. Worse news! They play an aggressive zone. The Buckeyes force a turnover on 24.5 percent of opponent possessions, good for No. 11 in the country.
Defensive rebounding. Ohio State doesn't have a terrible amount of height, and they allow more second-chance opportunities than they'd like. Opponents grab 32.2 percent of available offensive rebounds -- No. 225 in the country. Williams and 6'4 freshman Jae'Sean Tate have been solid off the glass, but that's been about it for their key contributors.
Getting to the free throw line. The Buckeyes have some good shooters, but they don't get fouled all that often. Russell is the one who gets to the line the most (81 attempts this season), but it's surprising to see them avoid the line so much for a team that scores closer to the basket.
KenPom's prediction: Ohio State, 72-67. 70 percent chance Ohio State wins.
Pete's prediction: Maryland, 73-69.