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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Rider preview

The Terps look to make it three wins in a row.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland men’s basketball will be back in action Tuesday when it hosts Rider. The Terps recently defeated South Alabama, 68-55, to move their season record to 3-3 and give themselves a chance to get back over .500 with two conference games awaiting in the first week of December.

The Terps should have no problem doing so; DraftKings Sportsbook lists Maryland as a 16-point favorite over the Broncs. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and stream on Big Ten Plus.

Here’s what to know about Maryland’s opponent.

Rider Broncs (1-4, 0-0 MAAC)

2022-23 record: 16-14, 13-7 MAAC

Expectations are relatively high for Rider this year after being picked as the preseason favorite in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The Broncs are off to a slow start, though, still without a win against a Division I opponent. However, their schedule has been far from light, with three of their four DI opponents ranked in KenPom.com’s top 80. Rider’s one win came against Division III opponent Immaculata, 113-67.

Players to know

Mervin James, redshirt senior forward, 6-foot-7, No. 5 — James is the best player on Rider’s roster, garnering MAAC preseason player of the year honors. He currently leads the Broncs with 15.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Last season, he averaged 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest.

Allen Powell, redshirt senior guard, 6-foot-2, No. 2 — Powell was Rider’s second preseason all-conference selection, earning a spot on the first team. He’s only been averaging 6.6 points per game this season, however, in part due to him making only six of his 32 3-point attempts.

Corey McKeithan, senior guard, 6-foot, No. 3 — McKeithan is second on the team with 10.2 points per game and second only to Powell in minutes played. He’s played at least 34 minutes in the team’s last three games and has registered three steals in each of the last two.

Strength

Strength of schedule. Rider’s schedule has been among the toughest in Division I through five games. KenPom ranks it as the second-hardest in the county, featuring two games against power conference competition (Marquette and Nebraska).

Weakness

Shooting. One look at Rider’s shooting thus far doesn’t paint a pretty picture. The Broncs’ offense is the 320th-most efficient in the nation, per KenPom, and their effective field goal percentage of 37.5% is the worst mark in Division I.

Three things to watch

1. Shot selection. Both Maryland and Rider rank in the nation’s bottom 10 for 3-point percentage. The share of Maryland’s shots that come from three is about 10 percentage points higher than that of the Broncs, but don’t expect either team to make much of an impact from beyond the arc.

2. Another big game for Reese? Against lesser competition, Maryland forward Julian Reese has dominated. He’s posted an average of 17.3 points and 12 rebounds at home this season against three teams of a similar caliber to Rider. Although James is an impact player, Reese is still in position to continue his impressive play.

3. A final tune-up. Tuesday night’s matchup will be Maryland’s last until its Big Ten opener at Indiana on Friday. Head coach Kevin Willard pointed to this stretch of three consecutive home games as a chance for his team to work through some of its struggles, and this will be his last chance to make evaluations before conference play.