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Maryland vs. Penn State preview: Terps look to get back on track with Nittany Lions

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Can the Terps stop the conference's top scorer?

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland has now lost two of their last three games, with a one-point win over Northwestern the only thing standing between them and a three-game losing streak. The Terps return to their home court Wednesday night, hosting the Penn State Nittany Lions in a prime opportunity to get back on the winning side of things. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET, with television coverage on Big Ten Network and streaming on BTN2Go.

Penn State is 14-8 this season, boasting a 2-7 record in Big Ten play. Both of those wins came in a row, January 24 at home against Rutgers and January 28 on the road against Minnesota. They rank No. 96 in KenPom, compared to No. 33 in Maryland. The Nittany Lions' best win besides that victory against the Gophers came in December, bating a solid George Washington team at home.

Former Boston University head coach Pat Chambers has been at Penn State since the 2011-12 season, and has yet to post a .500 record at the school. Last year, the Nittany Lions went 16-18 and played in the CBI Tournament -- by far their best result under Chambers, despite finishing for 10th in the conference. He's recruited well for the school and the program appears to be on the right track, but it's a hard program to sustain success at.

Players to know

D.J. Newbill, senior, 6'4. One of the nation's best scorers, Newbill is averaging 21.5 points per game for Penn State this season. He has the ability to single-handedly keep them in games and has done that often this season, scoring at least 20 points in six of nine Big Ten games (including a career-high 37 against Purdue).

Brandon Taylor, junior, 6'6. Penn State's second leading scorer (9.9 per game) and rebounder (6.0 per game), Taylor has missed each of the last two games with injury. His status is unclear for the Maryland game, but his absence could leave a big hole in their defensive interior -- he's one of the team's only capable shotblockers.

Ross Travis, senior, 6'7. The Nittany Lions' best rebounder, Travis isn't much of an offensive threat unless he's right near the basket. He's made just five of 29 free-throw attempts this year, and has surprisingly taken 14 three-point attempts this year (making just three of them).

John Johnson, senior, 6'1. Penn State's best three-point shooter (37.1 percent), Johnson has been suspended for each of the past six games. Next-best on the team is Newbill at 35.4 percent.

Strengths:

Having D.J. Newbill. It's true, Penn State is the only team with D.J. Newbill in the country. It's also true that they'd probably be putrid without him. Maryland will have to keep a close eye on the shooting guard, who gets to the line frequently.

Two-point defense. 6'9 Donovan Jack helps quite a bit with the defensive interior, and Penn State allows opponents to make just 44.0 of two-point shots (No. 63 in the nation).

Weaknesses:

Three-point shooting. Newbill might make a number of deep shots, but Penn State doesn't shoot all that well as a team from beyond the arc. The Nittany Lions have made 32.6 percent of three-point opportunities so far this season, ranking No. 224 in the nation.

Foul trouble. Penn State allows opponents to get to the line quite a bit. Opposing teams have taken 481 trips to the line this season, good for No. 278 in the nation.

Predictions:

KenPom’s prediction: Maryland, 70-61. 82 percent chance Maryland wins.

Pete's prediction. Maryland, 78-64. With the Terps returning to home and Penn State's knack for fouling, Melo Trimble vs. D.J. Newbill should be a fun one to watch. This game may be slow, with a lot of trips to the free throw line, but Maryland's one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country.