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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Loyola-Chicago preview

The Terps head to Baltimore to take on last year’s NCAA Tournament cinderella.

NCAA Basketball: Loyola University Celebration Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Just two days after losing a nailbiter at Purdue, Maryland men’s basketball will head to Baltimore to take on Loyola-Chicago.

The Terps are 7-2 and 1-1 in Big Ten play following a 62-60 loss to the Boilermakers, a game where neither team had a field goal in the final 4:20. Maryland had multiple opportunities to trim the deficit, but came up empty handed. Anthony Cowan Jr. had a desperation three-pointer blocked off an inbounds play with time expired to seal the Purdue victory.

After ending last year as the nation’s darlings following a Final Four run, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Ramblers this year. Loyola-Chicago is off to a 5-4 start, with losses to No. 6 Nevada, No. 25 Furman, Boston College and most recently to Ball State on Wednesday night. Loyola-Chicago lost three of its top six scorers from last year’s run, but returns its top two in Clayton Custer and Marques Townes.

Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET at Royal Farms Arena, and the game will be broadcast on BTN.

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (5-4)

2017-18 record: 32-6, 15-3 Missouri Valley

Head coach Porter Moser is 126-114 in seven seasons at Loyola-Chicago. He’s helped transition the program from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley in 2013, and last year was the first time the Ramblers finished higher than fifth in the regular-season standings since joining the conference. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon coached against Moser from 2003-07 when Turgeon was at Wichita State and Moser was at Illinois State, with Turgeon winning seven of the eight matchups.

Players to know

Marques Townes, redshirt senior, guard, 6’4/208, No. 5. Townes has done it all for Loyola-Chicago this year, averaging 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. In his first year with the Ramblers last year after transferring from Fairleigh Dickinson, his 11.1 points per game were second on the team.

Clayton Custer, senior, guard, 6’1/185, No. 13. Last year’s leading scorer is second on the team with 14 points per game and 3.1 assists this season. He transferred to Loyola-Chicago after one year at Iowa State, and his jumper against Tennessee with 3.6 seconds remaining helped send the Ramblers to the Sweet 16.

Cameron Krutwig, sophomore, center, 6’9/255, No. 25. Following a solid freshman campaign, Krutwig has continued to improve. His 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game are up from the 10.5 and 6.1 he averaged a year ago, and he’s shooting a ridiculous 72.2 percent from the field.


Controlling the offensive glass. Loyola-Chicago’s opponents only get a rebound on 21.3 percent of their misses, which is No. 7 in the country, according to KenPom. Maryland has controlled the glass so far this season, and Loyola-Chicago hasn’t faced a team with two post players that have the size and skill of Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando.


Getting second-chance opportunites. As good as it at limiting opponents’ possessions, Loyola-Chicago is just as bad at keeping its own alive. The Ramblers only get an offensive rebound on 18.4 percent of their missed shots, which is 351st out of 353 Division I teams.

Three things to watch

1. How does Maryland come out of the gate? This is a quick turnaround for a young team coming off a draining loss. The Terps responded well after their first loss of the season against No. 4 Virginia with a win over Penn State, but both games were at the Xfinity Center. Maryland may still be fatigued after a flight home and just one day off, and Loyola-Chicago is a team you don’t want to let hang around.

2. Will Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith spend a lot of time on the floor together? The Ramblers don’t play anyone taller than 6’9, so it could be tough defensively to have both bigs on the floor. Both players thrived on the court together against the Nittany Lions, but didn’t have the same success against Purdue.

3. Can Maryland get good minutes from outside its top six? Turgeon tried to steal a few minutes for players lower on the bench in the first half against the Boilermakers, but the Terps’ top six played 95 of a possible 100 minutes in the second half and 185 out of 200 for the game. Loyola-Chicago has eight players who play more than 15 minutes a game, which could be a problem for a Maryland team that has stagnated at the end of its last two games in part because of a short rotation.


KenPom: Maryland 74, Loyola-Chicago 66

Me: Maryland 73, Loyola-Chicago 68