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Maryland Men's Lacrosse Preview: Terps vs Penn State

Maryland's at home again for their 2nd Big Ten conference game; this weekend welcoming Penn State.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland's first ever Big Ten conference game was relatively business as usual. Hold the opposition to an extremely low total of goals, win a lot of face-offs, get to 10 goals. Success. A 13-4 win over a decent Michigan team was the right step forward. This weekend they once again meet one of the likely bottom feeders in this six team conference, the Penn State Nittany Lions. PSU is 3-6 on the year and lost their opener in conference play last weekend against Ohio State, 10-8.

As mentioned above, Maryland's formula under John Tillman is tried-and-true. Their defense is the star of the show, and shuts down the opposition's offense. They've done this to every kind of offense, including some of the best in the land. They hold a massive possession advantage and are generally a possession generating monster. A lot of that comes from winning the face-offs. Charlie Raffa has excelled at that. And then....get to 10. Maryland has won 29 games in a row when they get to to 10 goals. It's their magic number. Against Penn State you shouldn't really expect this to change.

PSU's offense is ranked 39th in the country in rankings done by Ken Massey. That's in the second half of teams in the country. They average 9.3 goals per game, good for 43rd in the country. It is not an up-tempo, hyper-active dominant offense. It's got some talent. TJ Sanders has 19 goals and 28 points on the year. That's nearly better than his numbers in all of last year. Mike Sutton, Matt Florence, and Nick Aponte run the first line midfield and have a combined 50 points. But there's no real guy that controls the offense. There's no alpha male on it. This is great for Maryland's D as they can settle into a variety of packages. Whether it's a zone, or man D. A man to man D might work better as the Nittany Lions offense is primarily midfield based, but it's not going to really punish you from the outside. The match-up is a good one for the Terps.

While Maryland tied their highest goal total in a single game this season last week, the 6-on-6 offense generally wasn't very effective. A lot of the goals came from unsettled situations off of face-offs. Isaiah Davis-Allen scoring two goals for example and Matt Neufeldt adding another. Now those two getting on the scoresheet isn't inherently a bad thing. And Gerald Logan played a heck of a game for Michigan. But the offense wasn't really firing on all cylinders. Matt Rambo had a hat-trick and Jay Carlson also had two. But as I've mentioned....teams will key in on those guys. T down the stretch. They're the teams two best players. This will shift the focus to the teams first line midfield of West, LoCascio, and Heacock. The latter two were superb vs UNC and Robert Morris. All three will have to really make an impact with their shooting from the outside on Saturday. Lots of shots will be taken, that's the nature of this midfield. But if they can start finding the twine with some long range shots this will lead to an easier time for Matt Rambo, who's growing into his role as the conductor of this offense.

There's an interesting stat that's been floated around, and it might be important for this game. Maryland's only outscored opponents 22-13 in the first quarter. For the most part Maryland isn't a team that gets out to really hot starts. In the second and third quarters? They outscore opponents 52-12. That's incredible. And goes in line with what you normally see in this team's games. They always make a big run that puts a game away. But in a game where the Terps are the huge favorite, and with a Penn State team and offense looking to get a spark....perhaps it would serve them better to get out to a big start and really step on the gas early. The Nittany Lions offense is young and does have some talent. They're not completely devoid of guys able to make their mark on a game. If they get some confidence it could lead to a tighter game than wanted. But when you're outscoring teams 52-12 in the middle can afford that slow start.

Penn State, like Michigan, is a team that could make some noise in the Big Ten not far down the road. Perhaps even next year. They're going to be returning everyone on offense, Connor Darcey in goal who's had a strong year. They've got a great coach in Jeff Tambroni. It's a program that's got potential. But Maryland should take care of them fairly easily. The match-ups are tilted nicely in the Terps' favor, they're deeper, they have more talent. They're just a better lacrosse team. And they should claim another relatively routine win.

Game time is 3 PM ET from Byrd Stadium. If you can't make it out to the game you can catch it on Big Ten Network. Live Stats will also be available as well: