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Maryland vs. Penn State preview: Terps look for series sweep against Nittany Lions

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After a big win in College Park, can Maryland finally win another road game?

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland finally broke their three-week long slump Wednesday, beating a good Indiana team in College Park in a close game. The Terrapins have an opportunity for a more resounding win Saturday, when they travel to face Penn State. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET, with television coverage on the Big Ten Network and streaming on BTN2Go.

Like Maryland, Penn State has gone 1-1 since the last meeting between the two teams (a 64-58 Terrapin win in College Park). The Nittany Lions are now 15-10 on the season (3-9 in Big Ten play) and rank No. 82 in KenPom (Maryland is now No. 37).

Penn State followed the loss to Maryland with a 56-43 home win over Nebraska, but were blown out by Ohio State last time out. The Nittany Lions lost 75-55 to the Buckeyes on Wednesday, and currently sit at 12th place in the Big Ten Standings.

Players to know

D.J. Newbill, senior, 6'4. Penn State's all-everything guard is still scoring at an absurd rate (20.7 per game), but he hasn't topped 20 points since before the Maryland game. He scored 18 against the Terps, but Maryland did a very good job limiting his shooting opportunities (four-of-12 from two, two-of-seven from three).

Ross Travis, senior, 6'7. The Nittany Lions' best rebounder, Travis is averaging a team-high 6.2 boards per game. Maryland held him to two points and five boards last time out.

Brandon Taylor, junior, 6'6. If Newbill is Mr. All-Everything, Taylor is Mr. Do-Everything. He's second on the team in scoring (10.0 per game), rebounding (5.7) and is tied for the team lead in blocks (0.8). He scored nine with three rebounds against Maryland in College Park.

Geno Thorpe, sophomore, 6'3. Until the Ohio State game (when he was held scoreless, Thorpe had put together a nice pair of games, scoring a combined 24 against Maryland and Nebraska.  He gets to the free throw line a lot, and Maryland will have to adjust to his driving ability.

Strengths:

Defense. As Maryland saw last time, while the Nittany Lions struggle to score the ball (outside of Newbill), they do a good job limiting opportunities. They rank No. 57 in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 60 in effective field goal percentage.

Having D.J. Newbill. It's true, Penn State is still the only team with D.J. Newbill on its roster.

Weaknesses:

Three-point shooting. As a team, they're shooting 32.9 percent from beyond the arc. That is not good. Individually, the Nittany Lions have three players who have attempted more than 100 three-point shots. Those players are averaging 36.0, 33.9 and 33.1 percent.

Forcing turnovers. Penn State plays a good defensive game, but it doesn't put quite as much pressure on opposing offenses as some of the other defensive teams Maryland has played this year. The Nittany Lions force a steal on 8.8 percent of opposing possessions, ranking No. 223 in the nation.

Predictions:

KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 65-64. 50 percent chance Maryland wins.

Pete's prediction: Maryland, 74-60. The Terrapins finally break through with a strong road performance, riding Wednesday's important win into a blowout victory over one of the conference's worst teams.