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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Purdue preview

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It’s time for Big Ten basketball in College Park.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Arizona vs Purdue Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland men’s basketball faces its first Big Ten test of the season with a matchup against Purdue at the Xfinity Center on Dec. 1.

Maryland is 6-2 after its first stretch of nonconference play, and 1-2 in their last three games. The Terps are coming off losses to St. Bonaventure in the Emerald Coast Classic and Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with a win over New Mexico in the Classic’s third-place game sandwiched in between.

Purdue also sits at 6-2, and, like Maryland, went into its early season tournament undefeated. The Boilermakers were 4-0 and ranked No. 18 in the country going into the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, before falling to Tennessee in overtime and Western Kentucky on back-to-back nights. They rebounded with a win over Arizona, who went 0-3 in the tournament, to place seventh, and followed that up by beating No. 17 Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Now one team will have a chance to walk away with a quality early season win when they face off Dec. 1 in College Park at 7 p.m. on BTN.

The Terps have had this one marked on their calendar

All of the returners for Maryland vividly remember blowing a 14-point second half lead at home to Purdue last season, and are eager for redemption.

“We all know what happened last year here,” forward Ivan Bender said at availability Thursday. “We should have enthusiasm and come out here with the mental toughness and just respond to last year. ... I feel like we should be fired up and ready to play for this game.”

Both teams’ leading scorers from last season have departed for pro careers. Outside of that, not much has changed on either side, adding to the anticipation for the Terps’ Big Ten opener.

Purdue Boilermakers (6-2)

2016-17 record: 27-8, 14-4

Head coach Matt Painter returns much of the team that won the Big Ten crown last season, sans Caleb Swanigan. Painter’s been helming his alma mater for the past 12 seasons and has a 244-136 record in his time guiding the Boilermakers. He’s made the NCAA Tournament all but two seasons, and has another team that should finish in the upper realm of the conference.

Players to know

Carsen Edwards, sophomore, guard, 6’1, No. 3. Edwards has exploded onto the scene in his sophomore season. He’s stepped up to become the Boilermakers’ leading scorer in Swanigan’s absence, upping his nightly average from 10.3 points to 17.4 points a game. “He plays with a scorers mentality so, for us, any time he catches it really anywhere on the court, we know he’s going to be aggressive,”Kevin Huerter said.

Vincent Edwards, senior, forward, 6’8, No. 12. Turgeon said Thursday that Edwards is to Purdue, what Justin Jackson is to the Terps. Painter has decided run more plays for him out of the post, and he’s delivered with 14.1 points and a team-high 8.8 rebounds a game. He’s added 2.6 assists a night, with a .400 three-point percentage.

Isaac Haas, senior, center, 7’2, No. 44. Dubbed “the Dentist” by Terps big men Bender and Michal Cekovsky, Haas is now the Boilermakers’ top option in the paint. Maryland will have to decide whether to double-team him or just throw a variety of big men at him. If they double-team, the Terps open themselves up on the arc to the knockdown shooting of Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson, who shoot 53.5 and 51.3 percent, respectively, from beyond the arc.

Strength

Efficiency. The Boilermakers post a top-20 efficiency rating on both offense (12th) and defense (16th), and rank right behind the Terps in effective field goal percentage at No. 23, per Kenpom. Purdue has the ability to attack inside with a pair of seven-footers in Haas and 7’3 freshman Matt Haarms, usually not played together, or outside with a variety of long-range shooters, that hit 41.3 percent of their collective three point attempts.

Weakness

Keeping teams off the offensive glass. One of the few areas Purdue has struggled with is allowing teams to get a second chance opportunity. The Boilermakers are giving up 12.6 offensive rebounds a contest; Maryland averages 11.75 a night and has the No. 3 offensive rebound rate in the country. It’s not going to be an easy day in the paint, but if Maryland gets some bodies on the offensive boards, it will help mitigate possessions lost to turnovers.

Three things to watch

  1. Can Maryland keep the turnovers down? The Terps desperately need to improve on their 25.4 percent turnover rate. Maryland showed some improvement in the second half against Syracuse, and had committed just five turnovers in the second half until two crucial last minute turnovers sunk the Terps. Unlike in their two losses, Maryland will be facing a primarily man defense and have to keep a tight handle on the ball.
  2. How will Maryland’s big men figure into the matchup? Huerter said the Terps will likely look to slow down Haas using a strategy similar to the one they employed two seasons ago, when Maryland threw the combination of Cekovsky, Diamond Stone and Damonte Dodd at the Boilermakers’ big men. Only Cekovsky remains, but if he, along with Bender, Bruno Fernando and Sean Obi can defend without fouling, Maryland will may be able to neutralize the threats inside.
  3. Will Maryland redeem itself? The Terps have a couple chips on their shoulders heading into this one. Maryland is coming off a stretch where it has lost two of its last three games, and has even more to prove with a payback matchup against Purdue to start the conference season. This has the feel of a late-February game, except it’s going to kick off the month of December.

Predictions

KenPom: Purdue, 73-72.

Me: Maryland, 74-70.