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Breaking down Maryland men’s basketball’s conference schedule through January

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Here’s a look at who the Terps will play in the Big Ten in the first half of conference play.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland men’s basketball is off to a 5-3 start after dropping games to George Mason, Louisville and Virginia Tech. The Terps are struggling when it comes to making shots as they’ve shot 26.8% from behind the arc through the first eight games, ranking 13 out of 14 in the Big Ten. Maryland’s field goal percentage stands at 42.5, 12th in the conference only ahead of Rutgers and Wisconsin.

Expectations were high for this Maryland program coming into the season. Although the Terps lost guards Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell to the NBA and Marquette, respectively, they returned guards Eric Ayala, Hakim Hart and forward Donta Scott. Maryland also picked up guard Fatts Russell and center Qudus Wahab from the transfer portal and added four-star forward Julian Reese who has made an immediate impact for the Terps. Maryland also picked up guards Xavier Green and Ian Martinez as well as forwards Pavlo Dziuba and Simon Wright who have rotated in as well. However, despite having all the roster pieces, Maryland has not been able to put the puzzle together.

After the first eight games of the season, the program announced that head coach Mark Turgeon and Maryland men’s basketball mutually agreed to part ways. Danny Manning will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the season.

After most recently falling to Virginia Tech at home in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Terps have an opportunity to bounce back at the Xfinity Center and collect a win against its first conference opponent of the season in Northwestern.

Let’s take a look at Maryland’s Big Ten opponents it will face through the end of January.

*All rankings and stats are from Dec. 5

Northwestern (Dec. 5)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 5-2

Last season Northwestern closed out the season with a 9-15 record capturing six wins in conference play. Head coach Chris Collins did return a majority of his notable players in guard Boo Buie, forward Pete Nance, guard Chase Audige, guard Ryan Greer, center Ryan Young, forward Robbie Beran. Forward Miller Kopp was the Wildcats’ most notable departure as he averaged the second-most points on the team during the 2020-21 season behind Audige with 11.3 points per game.

Northwestern started off the season 4-0 with some commanding wins over Eastern Illinois, High Point, New Orleans and Fairleigh Dickinson. The Wildcats’ next three games proved to be more of a challenge. In the Legends Classic, Northwestern fell to a Providence which also defeated Wisconsin a few days earlier but then bounced back the next day to defeat Georgia. Most recently, the Wildcats fell to WakeForest in overtime in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, 77-73.

Through seven games, Northwestern has the No. 4 offense in the Big Ten behind Iowa, Purdue and Indiana. The Wildcats are averaging 80.4 points per game and their 46.4 field goal percentage ranks fifth in the conference. Nance is leading the charge for the Wildcats currently averaging 17.3 points per game, seventh in the conference, and 7.9 rebounds per game, eighth in the conference.

at Iowa (Jan. 3)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 7-1

Iowa finished third in the conference last season with a 22-9 record, 14 of those wins coming in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes return guard Jordan Bohannon, guard Connor McCaffery, forward Keegan Murray, forward Patrick McCaffery and guard Joe Toussaint. However, they lost key players to the NBA in center Luka Garza and guard Joe Wieskamp. Guard C.J. Frederick and forward Jack Nunge both transferred out of the program. Head coach Fran McCaffery added a few skilled newcomers in forward Filip Rebrača from North Dakota and a couple of three starts in forward Payton Sandfort and center Riley Mulvey. However, it is the returners who have been making the largest impact.

Iowa is the No. 1 scoring team in the Big Ten currently averaging 91 points per game. The Hawkeyes’ 49.2 field goal percentage ranks third in the conference and its 37.9 shooting percentage from behind the arc ranks second. Murray not only leads the Hawkeyes in scoring but also the entire conference currently averaging 24.6 points per game. Murray also ranks third in the conference in rebounding with an average of 8.9 boards per game across seven games.

The Hawkeyes have won a majority of their games in their nonconference slate pretty easily aside from their matchup against Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Iowa was down with 10 seconds to go and Toussaint hit a game-winning jumper with eight seconds on the clock to give Iowa the 75-74 victory. The Hawkeyes did drop their first conference game to No. 2 Purdue, 77-70 on Friday, Dec. 3.

at Illinois (Jan. 6)

2021 record as of Dec. 3: 6-2

Illinois was the Big Ten tournament champion and finished with a 24-7 record, 16 wins in the Big Ten. Despite losing the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year to the NBA in Ayo Dosunmu, the Fighting Illini welcomed back center Kofi Cockburn, guard Trent Frazier, guard Da’Monte Williams and guard Andre Curbelo. Head coach Brad Underwood also brought in guard Alfonso Plummer from Utah who has made an immediate impact.

Plummer is averaging 15.1 points per game through seven games which ranks second on the team behind Cockburn who is averaging 24 points through four games. Plummer also is averaging the second-most three-point field goals per game with three. Jacob Grandison has also made an impact for the Illini making a huge leap from last season. During the 2020-21 season, he averaged 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds. Through the first eight games of this season, Grandison is averaging 11.3 points per game, third on the team and 4.1 rebounds.

This season, the Illini got off to a rocky start as it was without Cockburn since he was suspended as he was selling apparel from the school prior to the NCAA’s interim policy that activated July 1 allowing college athletes to benefit from name, image and likeness. The preseason AP No. 11 team in the country fell to Marquette on the road, 67-66, in its third game of the season and in Cockburn’s first game back one week later, Cincinnati claimed a commanding 71-51 win over the Illini. Since then, Illinois has captured four in a row including a dominant opening-conference win over Rutgers, 86-51.

No. 23 Wisconsin (Jan. 9)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 7-1

Wisconsin finished last season 18-13 with a 10-10 record in conference play. In the offseason, the Badgers lost forward Micah Potter to the NBA and guard D’Mitrik Trice, forward Aleem Ford and forward Nate Reuvers to play professionally overseas. The Badgers returned guard Brad Davison for his fifth year as well as sophomore guard Johnny Davis and junior forward Tyler Wahl who have worked their way into larger roles.

Davis and Davison lead the team in scoring averaging 20.1 and 15.9 points per game, respectively. Davis’ 20.1 points per game rank fourth in the Big Ten and Wahl has added a team-high 12 blocked shots which rank seventh in the conference. However, Wisconsin has the second-lowest field goal percentage in the conference at 41.4%.

The Badgers won their first three games before falling to Providence, 63-58 in the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Since then, Wisconsin has picked up four wins including three to win the 2021 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. In the second round of its Thanksgiving week bracket, Wisconsin defeated then-No. 12 Houston, 65-63 and went on to defeat Saint Mary’s 61-55 in the finals. Most recently, the Badgers picked up an 89-76 win over Marquette.

at Northwestern (Jan. 12)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 5-2

Rutgers (Jan. 15)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 4-4

The Scarlet Knights had an exciting season for their program last year making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991 and finding its first victory in the tournament since 1983. However, in the offseason, Rutgers lost center Myles Johnson and guard Jacob Young to UCLA and Oregon, respectively, who were two of the Scarlet Knights’ top five scorers. Rutgers did return guard/forward Ron Harper Jr., guard Geo Baker, guard Paul Mulcahy, center Cliff Omoruyi and guard Caleb McConnell. Head coach Steve Pikiell also picked up forward Audre Hyatt from LSU.

The Scarlet Knights are led by Harper Jr. who currently averages 14.8 points through seven games. He is then followed by Omoruyi, Baker and Mulcahy who are averaging 11.5, 11.2 and 6.9 points per game, respectively. However, Rutgers has one of the worst three-point field goal percentages in the conference, standing at 27.7%. Nebraska and Maryland are the only teams with a lower percentage from deep. The Scarlet Knights’ 39.4 field goal percentage ranks last in the conference.

Rutgers picked up three wins in a row before falling consecutively to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass. The Scarlet Knights dropped all three games by three points or less. Although, the Scarlet Knights turned things around with a 74-64 victory over Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, they fell to Illinois in their first conference matchup.

at No. 24 Michigan (Jan. 18)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 5-3

Michigan finished last season 23-5 with 14 wins in conference play. They won the Big Ten and advanced to the Elite Eight however fell to UCLA. The Wolverines are returned center Hunter Dickinson, guard Eli Brooks and forward Brandon Johns Jr. however lost multiple key players to the NBA in guard Franz Wagner, Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown as well as forward Isaiah Livers. Center Austin Davis also left and is playing in the Polish Basketball League. However, head coach Juwan Howard reloaded adding five-stars Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate Guard DeVante’ Jones from Coastal Carolina.

Dickinson is averaging the most points thus far with 14.5 per game followed by Brooks, Houstan, Diabete and Jones who are averaging 14.4 9.8, 7.6 and 6.4 points per game. Dickson is leading the team on the glass with 8.5 rebounds per game followed by Jones who has 5.1 boards per game. Despite high expectations for this Michigan team, its offensive production has not been the same. In the 2020-21 season, Michigan ranked fourth in the Big ten offensively scoring 75.8 points per game. Currently Michigan holds the No. 12 spot in that stat category with 69.3 points, only ahead of Rutgers and Penn State. The Wolverines’ field goal percentage last season was 48.2% standing second in the conference however, the team is shooting from the field at a 46.2% clip in which five teams are having stronger performances from the floor.

Michigan has picked a few losses already this season, all to unranked opponents. After starting 3-0, the Wolverines faced Seton Hall in the Gavitt Tipoff Games and dropped that matchup, 67-65, for their first loss of the season. After bouncing back with a win against UNLV, Michigan lost to Arizona, 80-62. A win against Tarleton State was followed by a loss in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge North Carolina but, on Saturday, the Wolverines picked up a win over San Diego State.

Illinois (Jan. 21)

2021 record as of Dec. 3: 6-2

at Rutgers (Jan. 25)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 4-4

Indiana (Jan. 29)

2021 record as of Dec. 5: 7-1

The Hoosiers finished the season last year 12-15 picking up just seven wins in conference play. Head coach Mike Woodson is returning forward/center Trayce Jackson-Davis, forward Race Thompson as well as guard Rob Phinisee and Khristian Lande. However, Indiana lost a few players to transfer portal in guards Aljami Durham and Armaan Franklin and center Joey Brunk. Woodson also welcomed forward Miller Kopp from Northwestern, guard Xavier Johnson from Pittsburgh and center Michael Durr from South Florida, along with a few four-star recruits in guard Tamar Bates and center Logan Duncomb.

Jackson-Davis is leading the way for the Hoosiers averaging 21 points per game, over 10 points more per game than Johnson who ranks second on the team with 10.4 points per game. Jackson-Davis’ 21 points per game rank second in the conference behind Iowa’s Murray. The junior forward is also having a strong performance on the glass averaging 8.6 per game, fifth in the country. Indiana currently ranks second in the conference behind Purdue with a 49.6 field goal percentage and its 80.4 points per game rank third in the Big Ten behind Iowa and Purdue and tied with Northwestern.

The Hoosiers won their first six games and picked up their first loss in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Indiana fell to Syracuse, 112-110 in a tight overtime matchup but bounced back with a win over Nebraska, 68-55.