WHO: Indiana Hoosiers (14-13, 4-12) @ Maryland Terrapins (25-2, 16-0)
WHAT: Women's basketball B1G Conference game
WHERE: Xfinity Center, University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
WHEN: Thursday, February 26, 2015 7:00 p.m. ET
WATCH: In Person
Hoosiers on the court - Since the first meeting
When Maryland went to Bloomington a month ago, Indiana looked like a young but talented team that was subject to the inconsistency that sometimes dogs young squads. Although there was little question that the Terrapins were the deeper and more talented squad, the Hoosiers, whose roster consists of one senior, six sophomores, and four freshmen, put forth one of their best efforts of the season.
Rallying from a first half deficit of 18 points that had expanded to as much as 24 in the opening minutes of the second half, the Hoosiers scrapped back to be within 11 points with four and a half minutes to play. The Terps never allowed the lead to dip below double digits and held on for an 84-74 win.
Since then, the fight and potential Indiana showed in its second-half effort against Maryland has failed to materialize into tangible results on the court. The Hoosiers have won only two, while losing six, over the last month and will come to College Park on a three-game losing skid. They have dropped all four of their road games and their two home wins have come against Purdue -- a team that has plunged to the bottom of the conference standings -- and Illinois another team that has struggled in conference play.
By nearly every statistical measure, Indiana has regressed in the eight-game stretch since that first game against Maryland. A small sample shows that through the season's first 19 games, Indiana averaged 76.0 points per game (4th), gave up 63.4 ppg (6th), and had a shooting percentage of 43.4 (6th). In the eight games leading up to Thursday's contest, their scoring has fallen off to 66.6 ppg (9th), scoring defense has risen to 69.3 (9th), and their field goal percentage has dropped to 41.8 (9th). One area the Hoosiers have become more dangerous is their three point accuracy which has increased from 31.5 percent in the first 19 games to 38.1 percent over the last eight.
Indiana has seen a corresponding drop off in their efficiency on both sides of the court. Their scoring has fallen from 1.00 points per possession to 0.94 while defensively they now yield 1.01 ppp compared with 0.85 in the earlier part of the season.
Players to watch
Larryn Brooks #5, sophomore, guard, 5'5". Brooks has been consistent in terms of her scoring average which continues at 12.1 points per game. She has been red hot from long distance, shooting 50 percent in the eight games since the first meeting with the Terps. She still leads the team with 4.0 assists per game, a slight drop from earlier in the season likely more attributable to her teammates not finishing than in the quality of her play.
Alexis Gassion, #23, sophomore, guard 5'10". Gassion was not a notable player in our initial preview but she, along with fellow sophomore Karlee McBride (#21) have emerged as Indiana's number two and three scoring options since the first meeting. Both are scoring 9.9 points per game and Gassion is adding over seven rebounds and nearly two and a half assists. McBride does her scoring in limited playing time of only 17 minutes per game.
Indiana is not a team with great size and doesn't get great production from their interior players. The Hoosiers' front court features 6'2" freshman Amanda Cahill (#33) and 6'3" sophomore Jenn Anderson (#43). Cahill averages 10.7 points and eight rebounds per game while Anderson chips in 8.5 points and 3.6 boards. Indiana has been out rebounded by more than six rebounds per game in conference play.
It would be both accurate and misleading to describe the two teams has headed in different directions since their first contest. Misleading because Maryland was undefeated in conference play before the first time they played Indiana and continues to pursue an undefeated conference season while the Hoosiers had a conference record of 2-6 after playing the Terps and they have the same record since. Accurate because Maryland has continued their ascent widening the gap with the rest of the league and securing the outright conference title with three games to play while Indiana has fallen into the dreaded bottom four in the conference standings meaning they would have to open the conference tournament with a game on Wednesday.
While Maryland has been winning games relatively comfortably, they have not been as sharp as they were through the middle of the B1G schedule. Over their last four games, both Michigan State and Wisconsin outscored them in the second half of the their games. The Terps have committed at least 18 turnovers in three of the four games and, against Penn State, had their least efficient offensive game since they lost to Washington State in the season's seventh game.
Thursday the Terps will honor the lone senior on the roster, Laurin Mincy before taking the court for their final regular season home game. As it was in the first meeting, this is a game Maryland should not only win, but should win easily. The expected win would provide Maryland the opportunity to become the first B1G women's team to finish the season undefeated since Purdue in 1998-1999.
The GAMER prediction system posits an 87.9 percent winning probability for Maryland and predicts a nearly 30 point margin of victory. Terps fans should watch to see if Maryland returns or at least shows signs of returning to their mid-season form. In their quest for perfection, a home win against Indiana shouldn't prove too challenging. Getting the final win, on the road against a very capable Northwestern team that could be fighting for the fourth and final double bye spot, will require that mid-season form.