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Maryland basketball vs. Bucknell preview

The Terps hope to keep their strong start going.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland men’s basketball is now 3-0, after adding an early statement win over Butler in the Gavitt Games.

The Terps have now looked impressive through their first stretch of the season. Anthony Cowan posted his first career double-double against Butler, and freshmen Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell have immediately become a significant part of Maryland’s rotation.

They now turn their attention to a Bucknell team that has had two good showings and one disappointing outing, all resulting in losses. The Bison played Monmouth down to the wire, but fell, 79-78. Then they turned around and got run out of the gym by Arkansas, getting blown out 101-73. On Nov. 15, they gave the defending champs a run for their money, before losing 93-81.

Bucknell isn’t a big name school, but the Terps will face another test when the Bison come to the Xfinity Center on Saturday at 8:30 on BTN.

Bucknell Bison (0-3)

2016-17 record: 26-9, 15-3

Head coach Nathan Davis was hired in 2015 and has since won two straight Patriot League Coach of the Year awards and regular season titles with the Bison. He broke through last season, as Bucknell walked away from the conference tournament with the title and NCAA Tournament appearance No. 7.

His tenure at Bucknell represents a return, as he was the top assistant at Bucknell from 2003-08, before leading Randolph-Macon, his alma mater, to a 141-39 record over six seasons. He has a good chance to repeat his Patriot League run, too, seeing as he returns a Division I-best 81.8 percent of minutes played last season, with three seniors leading the way.

Players to know

Zach Thomas, senior, forward, 6’7, No. 23. Thomas is the Bison’s unquestioned best player this season. Through three games, he leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 25.7 points and 10 rebounds a game. The Ijamsville, Maryland, native is also deadly from deep and has nailed almost 52 percent of his average of nine threes a game.

Nana Foulland, senior, center, 6’9, No. 20. Foulland represents another inside presence for the Bison, and is averaging 17.7 points and four rebounds a night. While much of this team prefers to do their work from deep, all of Foulland’s career points have come from inside the arc or at the free throw line.

Stephen Brown, senior, point guard, 5’11, No. 2. The Manassas, Virginia, native is Bucknell’s top distributor, and by a wide margin. He’s averaging 7.7 assists over 28 minutes a night, with 51.3 percent of his possessions ending in a dime. His assist rate ranks No. 13 in college basketball, and he’s added 11.7 points a game, though his shooting percentages are down from last season.


Three-point shooting. Bucknell has been pretty efficient from beyond the arc this season, albeit in three losses. The Bison have made almost 40 percent of their three-point attempts this season, with the deep ball accounting for 45.3 percent of their points. Maryland will have to run shooters off the arc in this one.


Free-throw shooting. Despite their efficiency from three, the Bison have been surprisingly dreadful at the charity stripe. They’re hitting just 54.7 percent of their attempts this season, and will have to make the most of their limited opportunities at the stripe. Maryland is limiting teams to just 14 free throw attempts per game, which is good for No. 4 in the nation.

Three things to watch

  1. Just how good is Maryland’s defense? The Terps have performed magnificently on the defensive end, posting a top-30 defensive efficiency rating, so far, according to Kenpom. Bucknell is a threat from beyond the arc, so this game will pose a test to their perimeter defense.
  2. Can Cowan keep it up? Cowan has stepped up this season and been the leading scorer in every game and Maryland’s top rebounder in two of the first three games. He’s taken a hold of this offense, and now it’s just a question of can he do this consistently.
  3. How deep does Mark Turgeon go into his bench? Turgeon went down to a nine-man rotation against Butler, with Ivan Bender and Jared Nickens only playing four minutes each and Sean Obi and Joshua Tomaic not seeing the court. Dion Wiley and freshmen Fernando and Morsel, meanwhile, played significant roles. With Turgeon still experimenting with lineups, it may be telling as he starts to mold lineups he’ll like come conference season.


KenPom: Maryland, 82-71.

Me: Maryland, 84-70.