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Maryland men’s basketball at No. 10 Illinois preview

The Terps travel to take on one of the Big Ten’s best.

Michigan v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Maryland men’s basketball will look for its first road conference win of the season Sunday when it takes on No. 10 Illinois.

The Terps are coming off a comeback victory against Big Ten-worst Michigan, and will have their hands full against an Illini squad which is 9-1 at home this season.

Sunday’s game is set for 2 p.m. and will be televised on Big Ten Network.

No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini (12-3, 3-1 Big Ten)

2022 record: 20-13 (11-9 Big Ten)

Head coach Brad Underwood for six years has steadied Illinois as one of the top teams in the Big Ten, year in and year out. Well on their way to a fifth-straight 20-win campaign, the Illini look to be one of the conference contenders, alongside the Boilermakers and Wisconsin.

They’ve won five of their past six games, with the only blemish coming on the road against No. 1 Purdue. Their other two losses this season came against then-No. 4 Marquette and -No. 17. Tennessee.

Since Dec. 28, Illinois has been without its top player, Terrence Shannon Jr., as he continues to serve his indefinite suspension from the team.

Players to know

Marcus Domask, graduate guard, 6-foot-6, No. 3 — In Shannon Jr.’s absence, Domask has become Illinois’ top scoring option. The Southern Illinois transfer has averaged 21 points per game with Shannon Jr. out, including a 32-point showing against Northwestern. He’s also averaged close to seven assists per game over the past four contests.

Coleman Hawkins, senior forward, 6-foot-10, No. 33 — Hawkins has thrived in his fourth year with the Illini, averaging 10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game over 12 starts. Similarly to Domask, he’s stepped up of late, with at least 10 points in each of the past seven games.

Quincy Guerrier, graduate forward, 6-foot-8, No. 13 — The Oregon transfer has been debatably the Illini’s most efficient player, with three double-double’s in his past four games. An interior force, Guerrier doesn’t hesitate to step out beyond the arc either, having attempted six 3-pointers in the team’s last game against Michigan State.

Strength

Rebounding. Illinois’ experienced lineup is also one of the biggest, and leads the Big Ten in total boards, averaging over 43 a game. The Illini also average almost 13 offensive rebounds a game.

Weakness

Turnover margin. The Illini have the worst turnover margin in the Big Ten at -2.2 per game, notably forcing under 10 takeaways a game. Per KenPom.com, their non-steal turnover percentage (7.9) ranks No. 354 in Division I, suggesting that the Illini struggle to pressure their opposition.

Regardless, Illinois’ scoring defense is still solid, surrendering just 66.6 points per game.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland grab a signature win? The Terps desperately need to start racking up top-tier wins if they want to have some sort of formidable resume come March. Sunday’s contest provides an extremely unlikely chance to do so, but a tremendous opportunity nonetheless.

2. Donta Scott looks to stay hot. The fifth-year forward has been Maryland’s best player of late, single-handily helping the Terps to a win against Michigan. Averaging 14.6 points per game over the past five contests, can Scott deliver on the road?

3. Which Maryland will show? Will the team that put up 21 first-half points against Michigan come to play, or will the squad that outscored the Wolverines in the second half, 43-24, show up?