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Maryland vs. Nebraska preview: Terps look to make it 3 in a row against struggling Cornhuskers

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After two straight wins to stop its skid, Maryland has an opportunity for another victory Thursday.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After a 2-0 week solidified Maryland's second-place standing in the Big Ten and their status in the NCAA tournament field, the Terrapins return home to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network, with streaming on BTN2Go.

The Huskers are 13-12 this season, with a 5-8 record in conference play putting them in 11th place in the Big Ten standings. They rank No. 118 in KenPom (Maryland ranks No. 39) after losses to No. 191 Incarnate Word, No. 129 Hawai'i and No. 88 Penn State, among others. Nebraska's best wins came against No. 23 Michigan State, No. 44 Cincinnati and No. 49 Minnesota.

Tim Miles has been the Cornhuskers' head coach since the 2012-13 season, making the NCAA tournament field last year (the first time Nebraska had done so since 1998). A former NAIA and D-II coach who came to Nebraska from Colorado State, he's a pretty funny guy.

Players to know

Terran Petteway, junior, 6'6. Nebraska's leading scorer, Petteway would be having a great season if it weren't for his pesky three-point percentage. He averages 18.6 points per game with 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block, but is shooting 33.5 percent from three and takes a lot of shots from there. Petteway still manages to score in bunches and is a physical player on the inside.

Shavon Shields, junior, 6'7. Thought Petteway was shooting poorly this year? Shields has made just 14 of 71 three-point attempts this season, a staggering 19.7 percent. He still manages to score 15.8 points per game, getting to the free throw line for 5.8 attempts per game and making 4.8 of them. Shields is also Nebraska's leading rebounder at 6.2 per game.

Walter Pitchford, junior, 6'10. Nebraska's big man is scoring 7.0 points per game, shooting 51.5 percent from two-point range and 29.2 percent from three (somehow the third-best rate on the team). He's an average rebounder, but nothing noteworthy from a big man (4.6 per game) and isn't much of a shot-blocking threat.

Strengths:

Defense. Nebraska holds opponents to 61.3 points per game, good for No. 57 in the country. The Cornhuskers play mostly man and are 11th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. They haven't allowed an opponent to score more than 66 points since the Jan. 24 win against Michigan State.

Shot defense. Teams are shooting 43.9 percent from two and 31.7 percent from three against Nebraska. With six rotation players 6'6 or taller, they have length around the floor (even without a true dominant big man on the inside).

Weaknesses:

Offense. We only listed three players up there for a reason. Nebraska scores 62.2 points per game and has generally struggled to get anything going on that end of the court. They don't shoot the ball well, they don't rebound well on the offensive boards and they don't hold on to the ball well.

Three-point shooting. The worst of Nebraska's offensive problems have come from beyond the arc. As a team, the Cornhuskers are shooting a woeful 28.8 percent. That's 338th out of 351 Division 1 teams, and above only Georgia Tech among major conference schools.

Predictions:

KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 63-55. 84 percent chance Maryland wins.

Pete's prediction: Maryland, 70-53. The Terrapins are finally headed back in the right direction, and this is their best chance at a blowout win for the rest of the season. Nebraska is game enough defensively to keep it close, but Maryland is clearly the better offensive team.