Maryland men’s basketball has won two of its last three games and is back on the right track after a rocky stretch. The Terps are coming off an 18-point win over Wisconsin that moved them to 4-5 in the Big Ten. All four wins have come at home and all five losses have been on the road.
Maryland continues its home stretch with a matchup against Nebraska on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in College Park. With a win against one of the weaker opponents in the conference, Maryland would move to .500 in conference play for the first time since early December when it was 1-1.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-11, 3-7 Big Ten)
Nebraska has been in the basement of the Big Ten for years now, and despite head coach Fred Hoiberg’s best efforts, not much has changed in his four years at the helm. Hoiberg has never led Nebraska to more than four conference wins in a season. While it looks like the Huskers will eclipse that mark this season, Nebraska still sits at the bottom of the standings in the deepest conference in the country.
Nebraska has made marginal improvements this season and has wins over Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio State. While Nebraska may not be a threat to compete for championships in the conference, it is no longer a laughing stock. Any team should be on upset alert when matching up against the Huskers.
Players to know
Derrick Walker, senior forward, 6-foot-9, No. 13 — Walker is the key to Nebraska on both ends of the floor. He is the Huskers’ leading scorer with 13.6 points per game and has the most rebounds on the team. Walker rarely steps away from the paint, but is a force inside. He also leads the team in blocks.
Sam Griesel, senior guard, 6-foot-7, No. 5 — Griesel has a ton of size and length for a guard that makes him a matchup problem for opposing teams. He averages 11.2 points per game and has the most assists on the team as a pass-first guard. Griesel is not a good 3-point shooter but can get to the rim with his size.
Keisei Tominaga, junior guard 6-foot-2, No. 30 — Tominaga is Nebraska’s sharp-shooter. He's shooting 36% from three while averaging 10.6 points per game. He plays primarily off the ball and Nebraska likes to run sets to get him open looks.
Steals. Nebraska does not do a whole lot particularly well, so it’s hard to find a strength for a team that rates last, or close to it, in the Big Ten in most statistical categories. But one thing Nebraska has done well is generate steals. Nebraska is sixth in the conference in steals. It will be essential for Maryland to take care of the ball Saturday.
3-point shooting. Even after a great 3-point shooting performance Wednesday night against Wisconsin, Maryland still has the second-worst 3-point shooting percentage in the conference. The only team worse? Nebraska, which is shooting 30.2% from long range this season.
Three things to watch
1. The pick-and-roll. Maryland’s offensive success in recent games should be credited to the pick-and-roll offense Maryland utilizes more than anything else. When the pick-and-roll is at its best for Maryland, Jahmir Young is the primary ball-handler and Julian Reese is the screener. It’s allowed Young to have more success attacking the rim and has produced easier baskets for Reese.
2. Maryland’s pace of play. Part of the reason Maryland’s offense has looked better is because of its fast play style. Head coach Kevin Willard promised his teams would play fast before the season, but Maryland’s pace of play was inconsistent for the first couple months of the season. Now, Maryland continuously plays fast, starting with its full-court press that has confused opponents.
3. Julian Reese’s dominance. Reese has been fantastic in his last three games against some of the best big men in the country. Reese’s ascension has been a huge development for the Terps this season and is a big reason Maryland’s offense has made significant strides. He has another tough battle against Nebraska’s frontcourt, but stringing quality games together is what Maryland’s staff expects out of its sophomore big man.