Maryland men’s basketball is back in the Xfinity Center Tuesday for the first time in over a week and the last time before the end of the semester to play Loyola-Maryland. The Terps dropped out of the Top 25 after another 1-1 week, losing to Purdue by two on the road before beating the other Loyola-Chicago by 14 in Baltimore.
Maryland held a lead in the Purdue game until a late collapse, then survived foul trouble from Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith to take down last season’s Final Four Cinderella. The Terps allowed just 41 points against Loyola-Chicago, the fewest under head coach Mark Turgeon’s tenure. Anthony Cowan Jr. also went over 1,000 career points against the Ramblers, finishing with 17 for the game.
This game is a significant ramp down from the competition Maryland’s faced the last five games. The Terps went 3-2 in a stretch that featured four teams that played in March last season and Penn State, and lost to then-No. 4 Virginia and Purdue by a combined seven points. By contrast, the Greyhounds have played just two teams ranked in KenPom’s top 100 (Temple and St. John’s, both double-digit losses).
Loyola’s wins have come over light competition.
Loyola enters this game with four wins in 10 tries, and only one of those came against an opponent ranked higher than itself (that’s No. 293) by KenPom. The Greyhounds are fresh off an 18-point win over Binghamton (322nd), and Loyola’s other three wins come over Mount St. Mary’s (333rd), Delaware State (353rd of 353) and Hampton (233rd). The team’s six losses are by an average of 15 points.
It’s Tavaras Hardy’s first head coaching job, as the former Northwestern forward will look to help Loyola maneuver its first season in the Patriot League. Hardy has three players averaging double-figures, led by guard Andrew Kostecka with 19.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and a team-high 2.4 assists per game. The 6’4 junior is having his worst three-point year, hitting just 30.3 percent of attempts, but averaged 30 points per game across a three-game stretch between Nov. 25 to Dec. 5.
The Greyhounds are a solid passing team, but almost everything else has been subpar so far. Loyola’s greatest flaws have come on the defensive end, where it ranks 319th in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, and has allowed teams to score 76.8 points per game. The Greyhounds also have a propensity to foul, and teams have punished them for it, converting 76.9 percent of attempts.
Maryland: 8-2, 1-1 Big Ten
Loyola (Md.): 4-6
All-time series: Maryland leads 7-5 and has won the last seven meetings since 1971
Odds: Maryland is favored by 23.5 points
How to watch and listen
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m. (ET), Xfinity Center, College Park
TV: Big Ten Network — Dave O’Brien (Play-by-Play), Dan Bonner (Analyst)
Radio: 105.7 FM (Balt.), 980AM (DC), SiriusXM 964, TuneIn Radio App (Johnny Holliday, Chris Knoche, Walt Williams); WMUC Sports
Kenpom: Maryland 81, Loyola 68
Me: Maryland 88, Loyola 63