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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Indiana preview

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The Terps will look to win its third consecutive conference game.

Maryland v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

For the first time all season, Maryland men’s basketball most recently picked up back-to-back wins over Big Ten opponents.

The Terps first defeated then-No. 17 Illinois, 81-65, a team which they fell to earlier in the month. However, the second time around, the Fighting Illini’s star center Kofi Cockburn was out of the game which opened the floor for Maryland and allowed it to pick up its second conference win of the season.

Next up was the rematch against Rutgers. The Terps traveled to Piscataway, New Jersey and took care of the Scarlet Knights to improve to 3-6 in conference play. Now, the Terps will face Indiana for the first time this season.

Saturday’s matchup in College Park with Indiana will be on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FOX.

Indiana Hoosiers 15-5 (6-4, Big Ten)

2020-21 record: 12-15 (7-12, Big Ten)

Head coach Mike Woodson is in his first season at the helm of the program. He spent his collegiate career with the Hoosiers and is 2,061 points rank fifth in the record books for the program’s all-time leading scorer. In 1980, he was the Big Ten Player of the Year and after NBA playing and coaching careers, he is back in Bloomington, Indiana. Woodson started his coaching career in Milwaukee as an assistant from 1996-99 and held the same position in Both Cleaveland and Philadelphia before making the move to Detriot as an assistant where the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 2004 while he was on staff. In his time, he served as a head coach for the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-10 and a head coach for the New York Knicks from 2012-14. Most recently, he served as an assistant for the Knicks.

This season, Indiana has already surpassed its win total from the 2020-21 season. The Hoosiers have picked up six conference wins against Nebraska twice, then-No. 13 Ohio State, Minnesota, then-No. 4 Purdue and most recently Penn State after falling to the Nittany Lions earlier this season.

Players to know

Trayce Jackson-Davis, junior forward, 6-foot-9, No. 23 — Jackson-Davis leads the Hoosiers in scoring averaging 18.4 points per game, the fifth-most in the Big Ten. He shoots the ball at a 60.2% clip from the field, a percentage that just sits behind Purdue's Zach Edey who has a 70.9 field goal percentage and Michigan’s Hunter Dickson who shoots the ball just .4% higher than Jackson-Davis. In addition to scoring, Jackson-Davis also has made an impact on the glass averaging the third-most rebounds in the conference with 8.5 per game. His 56 blocks in 20 games come out to an average of 2.8 per game which leads the conference. He’s been an impactful player on the court for Indiana since his freshman season and this season is no exception.

Race Thompson, redshirt senior forward, 6-foot-8, No. 25 — Behind Jackson-Davis on the stat sheet in multiple areas in Thompson. The redshirt senior is averaging 11.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per matchup. His 14 total blocks rank second on the team as do his 21 steals. Last season, Thompson and Jackson-Davis were the only two players to start in every game for the Hoosiers and he returned to Indiana with plenty of experience. So far, he has started in all the games as he has been on the court to start the game in all 20 matchups.

Xavier Johnson, senior guard, 6-foot-3, No. 0 — Johnson is averaging 10.7 points per game, 3.7 boards and has 86 assists through 20 games which come out to an average of 4.3 assists per game. He leads the team by over 50 in assists and his 4.3 per game rank seventh in the Big Ten. Johnson has one of the better assist to turnover ratios in the conference with 47 total turnovers, the ratio is 1.8. That ranks 14th in the Big Ten and is the best out of all Indiana players. The Woodbridge, Virginia native also leads the team with 22 steals, 1.1 per game, which rank 20th in the conference.

Strength

Defense. Coming into this matchup, Indiana has the No. 1 defense in the Big Ten. Allowing just 63.4 points per game, the Hoosiers have a scoring margin of 10.6 which sits at No. 4 in the conference behind Purdue, Iowa and Illinois. Indiana has an average of 5.55 blocks per game, only behind Michigan State in the Big Ten and ranks 16th in the nation. Maryland, a team that struggled significantly with scoring early in the season, has seemed to fall into more of a rhythm when it comes to offense. However, the Terps are still averaging 12.2 turnovers per game while Indiana scores an average of 15.3 points per game.

Weakness

Winning road games. Indiana has played in just five true road games this season but it has struggled in those matchups. Despite being 13-1 in Bloomington and 1-0 at neutral sites, the Hoosiers are just 1-4 in away games. Syracuse handed Indiana its first loss of the season in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It was a double-overtime matchup in which the Hoosiers were down 49-33 at halftime but fought back in what turned out to be just a two-point loss. When the Hoosiers traveled to take on then-No. 22 Wisconsin, they dropped that game, 64-59 and then they fell to an unranked Penn State team by three points on the road to start January. Its other road loss came in the form of an 11-point defeat to Iowa. The only opponent that Indiana has defeated in a true road matchup is Nebraska. The Terps have the opportunity to defeat a team that received votes in last week’s AP Poll and being that the game is set for the Xfinity Center, that may give Maryland an opportunity to capitalize on.

Three things to watch

1. How will Maryland’s backcourt perform after the last matchup? Against Rutgers when the team faced the Scarlet Knights for the second time, guards Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell exploded for Maryland’s offense. Ayala had 22 points while shooting 8-for-13 from the field including 5-for-9 from deep. The senior guard also became the fifth Terp in program history to make 200 shots from three-point range. Russell had 23 points which tied the season-high he set in the double-overtime matchup against Northwestern. The graduate guard shot 7-for-16 from the field including 5-for-8 from deep and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. As demonstrated against the Scarlet Knights, when both these guards have strong nights, it’s hard to slow the Terps down.

2. How will center Qudus Wahab and forward Julian Reese look for the Terps? After Reese started in one matchup, Wahab went back to a starting role and has had back-to-back performances in which he’s scored in double digits. Against Illinois, the junior center had 11 points shooting 5-for-7 from the field and 1-for-1 from deep and against Rutgers he had 10 points shooting the same from the field as he did against the Fighting Illini. He grabbed four rebounds against Illinois and six against Rutgers picking up just two personal fouls in each of those matchups. Reese has had a quieter few games picking up having scored in double digits just once in January and most recently scoring seven and two points while grabbing five and three rebounds against Illinois and Rutgers, respectively.

Both Wahab and Reese have struggled a bit against some of the other bigs in the Big Ten and this matchup against Jackson-Davis gives them another opportunity to match up against a talented conference post player.

3. Will Maryland be able to collect three wins in a row against Big Ten opponents for the first time this season? The Terps started the season winning three straight against Quinnipiac, George Washington and Vermont. After that, Maryland went 2-4 in its next six games before picking up consecutive wins against a ranked Florida team, Lehigh and Brown. Three more losses for the Terps led up to a double-overtime win against Northwestern but Maryland then dropped back-to-back games against Rutgers and Michigan. Following those losses, Maryland has since defeated Illinois and Rutgers and now will have the opportunity to find that third consecutive win against Indiana at the Xfinity Center.