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Maryland vs. Iowa preview: Terps hope for first impressive win in weeks

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The Terrapins look to break their recent struggles with a very tough road game.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It's been three weeks since Maryland last recorded an impressive victory: January 17th's 75-59 home win over Michigan State. Since then, the Terps have been blown out on the road by Indiana and Ohio State and eked out home victories against Northwestern and Penn State. Mark Turgeon's squad has a chance to right the ship Sunday, as they travel for another difficult road game against Iowa. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. ET, with television coverage on the Big Ten Network and streaming on BTN2Go.

Iowa is 14-8 this season, sporting a 5-4 record in Big Ten play and a No. 33 ranking in KenPom (Maryland is No. 34). The Hawkeyes recorded an impressive non-conference win at No. 12 North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and have since recorded wins at No. 17 Ohio State and at home against the Buckeyes. Iowa beat Michigan on Thursday in their most recent Big Ten game, but lost their previous three games -- two to Wisconsin and one to Purdue. They have zero bad losses this season (the worst is to No. 75 Syracuse).

Fran McCaffery has been the Hawkeyes' head coach since the 2010-11 season, taking the team to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly a decade last year. He holds an 88-71 record with the school, finishing in sixth place in the Big Ten in each of the past two seasons. Prior to his time at Iowa, McCaffery spent time at Lehigh and UNC Greensboro before building Siena into one of the nation's best mid-major programs.

Players to know

Aaron White, senior, 6'9. Iowa's leading scorer, White is a dangerous offensive player averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds (also a team-high) per game. He'll prove an interesting matchup for Jake Layman in this game (if that's how Maryland chooses to defend him), although he is more of a driver to the hoop than a shooter.

Jarrod Uthoff, junior, 6'9. Uthoff just trails White in both categories -- he's the only other Iowa player in double-digit scoring (11.6 per game) and he's second on the team in rebounding (6.4). Uthoff's length could be an issue. He's a talented shot blocker who is also the team's best three-point shooter.

Mike Gesell, junior, 6'2. One of the best ball handlers in the conference, Gesell is averaging 3.5 assists per game and sports a 30.4 assist rate (No. 92 in the nation). He's not much of a scorer (7.6 points per game, 28.0 percent from three), but can make close shots when he needs to.

Peter Jok, sophomore, 6'6. Home to perhaps the best slam dunk call in college basketball -- "Jok jams!" -- Jok is a fantastic free throw shooter who has struggled in the other aspects of his game this year.

Adam Woodbury, junior, 7'1. Yes, Iowa has a seven-footer. He's averaging just 5.5 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game, however, but Maryland has struggled with some of the bigger Big Ten centers this season.

Strengths:

Free-throw shooting. The Hawkeyes are shooting 74 percent from the stripe (No. 26 in the country), so Maryland will have to try and keep them from getting to the line Sunday. That happens to be the exact same percentage Maryland is shooting on free throws.

Offensive rebounding. Between the 7'1 Woodbury and 6'10 senior Gabriel Olaseni, Iowa has two very good offensive rebounding options (to go along with White and Uthoff, both capable contributors on the glass). Maryland has done a good job limiting second chances this year, but the Hawkeyes will pose an extra problem Sunday.

Weaknesses:

Three-point shooting. At 38.0 percent, Uthoff is by far the Hawkeyes' best option from deep, and as a team they're shooting 31.9 percent from three. With Maryland's occasional perimeter defense problems, this could be an ideal matchup opportunity to grab an important road victory.

Defensive rebounding. Curiously enough, Iowa's rebounding edge completely falls apart on the other end of the court. Opponents are grabbing 32 percent of possible offensive rebound opportunities (No. 222 in the nation), and this could be a prime opportunity for Damonte Dodd, Michal Cekovsky or Jon Graham to improve on that portion of their game.

Predictions:

KenPom’s prediction: Iowa, 69-65. 66 percent chance Iowa wins.

Pete's prediction: Maryland, 67-64. I really, really think Maryland is due to break out of their slump soon, and Iowa's roster makeup gives them an opportunity to do so. The Terrapins are the more athletic team (by a pretty wide margin), and the Hawkeyes' inability to consistently score from three should give Maryland the edge.