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Maryland basketball vs. Indiana preview

The Terps return home to take on the No. 22 Hoosiers.

Indiana v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After winning back-to-back Big Ten road games, Maryland basketball will ride a four-game winning streak and 4-1 conference record into a home matchup with No. 22 Indiana on Friday night.

The Terps are coming off an 82-67 victory at Minnesota on Tuesday. The Terps trailed by six at halftime, but dominated in the second half on both ends of the floor. Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 23 of his career-high 27 points in the second half, while Jalen Smith poured in a career-high 21 and Bruno Fernando recorded another double-double. Head coach Mark Turgeon also found success after switching to a zone defense in the second half, cooling off a hot Minnesota offense.

Indiana won its first three Big Ten games against Northwestern, Penn State and Illinois before falling Sunday at No. 2 Michigan. The Hoosiers also have wins over Marquette, Louisville and Butler this season. After missing the NCAA Tournament in Tom Crean’s last season and Archie Miller’s first, Indiana looks poised to return to the big dance.

For Maryland, this game starts a pivotal stretch in the Big Ten season. After hosting Indiana and Wisconsin, the Terps’ next two contests are at No. 16 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan State. In a difficult, balanced league, every game will be important, and Maryland needs to keep the momentum going even in these difficult stretches.

Friday’s tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

No. 22 Indiana Hoosiers (12-3, 3-1 Big Ten)

2017-18 record: 16-15, 9-9

Head coach Archie Miller came to Bloomington in 2017 after seven seasons at Dayton. He went 139-63 there, guiding the Flyers to four straight NCAA Tournaments and the 2014 Elite Eight. Miller played point guard at NC State from 1998-2002, then served as an assistant at five different programs from 2002-11, including for his brother Sean at Arizona. When Miller came to Indiana, he inherited a team that had missed the NCAAs and lost several underclassmen to the pros. But it’s clear now that he’s got the program headed in the right direction.

Players to know

Romeo Langford, freshman, guard, 6’6/215, No. 0. Expectations were high from the second the nation’s No. 7 overall recruit committed to the Hoosiers in a ceremony with over 4,000 in attendance. But Langford has delivered. He’s averaging 18.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. His three-pointer is still a work in progress, as he’s 12-for-53 (22.6 percent) from deep this season. But the rest of his game has been on full display all year, and he’s a likely NBA lottery pick this June.

Juwan Morgan, senior, forward, 6’8/232, No. 13. Morgan broke through last season after several Hoosiers left for the pros, raising his scoring output from 7.7 to 16.5 points per game. Even with Langford emerging as the star, Morgan is still putting up impressive numbers this year. He’s averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game, and has recorded six double-doubles this season. The senior is coming off a 25-point showing at Michigan, and he broke out for 35 points against Butler last month.

After these two, Indiana has four perimeter players who can make a difference on a given night. Sophomore forward Justin Smith scores 8.5 points per game, while sophomore guard Aljami Durham and junior guard Devonte Green each average 8.4. Then there’s freshman guard Rob Phinisee, who averages 7.2 points and hit the buzzer-beater against Butler but has missed three straight games and faces an uncertain status for this contest. Four other Hoosiers average double-digit minutes, although none score more than five points a night.

(No, Yogi Ferrell does not play for Indiana anymore. I triple-checked.)

Strength

Inside scoring. The Hoosiers don’t rely much on three-point shooting, as only 31.4 percent of their field-goal attempts come from deep (328th in the country). Instead, they use Langford’s drives and Morgan’s post-ups to get most of their points closer to the basket. Indiana shoots 59.2 percent on two-pointers, the fourth-best mark nationally. And similarly, its effective field-goal percentage of 57.6 percent ranks eighth.

Weakness

Free-throw shooting. Indiana shoots just 65 percent from the foul line as a team, 307th in Division I. Langford gets to the line nearly seven times a game and makes 71.6 percent, but Morgan and Smith shoot just 60.4 and 61.1 percent at the stripe, respectively. (The extended rotation guys bring this number down a bit, as is the case with many teams.) The Hoosiers’ opponents are shooting a paltry 60.9 percent, but that’s not exactly something to read much into, especially with this game being in College Park.

Three things to watch

1. Darryl Morsell vs. Romeo Langford. Morsell has been Maryland’s go-to perimeter defender in recent games, a role he said shows him that his coaches and teammates trust him to guard the other team’s best player. He helped lock down Minnesota’s Amir Coffey for most of the first half, and all signs point to him spending Friday night hounding Langford. It’s possibly his toughest assignment of the season so far, but Morsell is a confident player who’s definitely up for the challenge.

2. Juwan Morgan vs. Maryland’s two bigs. Maryland’s frontcourt duo of Smith and Fernando is a force to be reckoned with, and Indiana might present a particularly favorable matchup. Morgan and Smith each have size, but at 6’8 and 6’7, respectively, the Terps should have the advantage on the boards. It’s possible we see more of De’Ron Davis (6’10/255), who’s seen his role decrease somewhat this season after missing the second half of last year to injury.

3. Maryland vs. slow starts. This was one of many problems in the Seton Hall loss, when the Pirates jumped out to a 14-3 lead. But it’s one off the few issues that has lingered during the four-game winning streak. Maryland fell behind 19-10 against Radford, 13-6 at Rutgers and 15-8 at Minnesota (Nebraska never had a noticeable advantage, but led for most of the first half). The Terps settled in and reclaimed first-half leads in all of these games, but it’d obviously be easier to not dig the hole in the first place.

Predictions

KenPom: Maryland 74, Indiana 70

Me: Maryland 78, Indiana 72