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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Purdue preview (round 2)

The Terps return home for a top-25 matchup and a shot at revenge.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This story has been updated to reflect Purdue rising to No. 12 in the AP rankings.

After playing five of its last six games on the road, Maryland men’s basketball returns to the Xfinity Center Tuesday night for a rematch against Purdue.

No. 24 Maryland (18-6, 9-4 Big Ten) enters this matchup well rested, getting six days off after completing its season sweep of Nebraska last week. It wasn’t a perfect game from the Terps, but stifling defense and awful shooting from the Cornhuskers paved the way for a 15-point win. Big men Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando each picked up double-doubles, allowing for an off night from Anthony Cowan Jr. with no consequences.

It’ll be the first of three straight ranked matchups for Maryland, with back-to-back ranked road games on the horizon. Before that, the Terps try to put a high-quality home win on its resume. Here’s my preview from the first time around.

Maryland and No. 12 Purdue (17-6, 10-2) will tip off at 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, with the top-25 matchup airing on BTN.

What happened last time

When these two teams matched up in early December, it was Maryland’s first game out of state and Purdue had lost three of its last four at that point. Maryland opened the game strong and started 4-of-5 from deep to help propel it to a halftime lead.

Carsen Edwards would hit a triple to start the second half and cut Maryland’s lead to one. That put the Terps on the defensive, and turned it into a one-possession game for just about the rest of the way. After Purdue went up 59-56, neither team would put in a field goal in the final five minutes. Free throws led the way to Maryland finding itself on the wrong end of a 62-60 final score, with a final attempt from Cowan blocked by Nojel Eastern at the buzzer.

Cowan led the way for Maryland in the first matchup with 18 points, six assists and four rebounds, while Edwards countered with 20 points, three assists and two steals. Both had unlikely co-stars for the night, as Darryl Morsell finished with 12 for the Terps and Anthony Wheeler dropped a season-high 15 points for the Boilermakers.

What’s happened since

The Terps entered the matchup ranked No. 23, but would drop out after the loss. After falling to Purdue, Maryland would go on to win nine of its next 10 contests, with a loss to Seton Hall mixed in, and give itself an opportunity to grab a share of the Big Ten lead against Michigan State on Jan. 21. The Terps dropped that contest and are 2-3 since that point, beating Northwestern in similar fashion to Nebraska.

Purdue’s win over Maryland was sandwiched between four of its six losses on the season, and preceded losses to Texas and Notre Dame. Since its loss to the Irish, though, Purdue is 11-1, with its only loss coming to Michigan State, and has worked its way up to No. 15 in the AP rankings. Edwards has continued to play like a Player of the Year candidate, averaging 24.6 points, 3.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game, hitting 37.2 percent of his 10.2 triples per game and is ranked No. 4 in KenPom’s Player of the Year rankings.

The Boilermakers have used their hot stretch of games to push their way up to second in the conference. Meanwhile, since having a shot a part of first place, Maryland’s recent performances have it tied with Wisconsin for fourth place.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland stop its losing streak in the series? The Boilermakers have been Kryptonite for the Terps. After Maryland took the first two matchups since joining the conference in 2014, Purdue has won the last five meetings between the two. All of the losses have been in close games, though, having been decided by an average of four points. Maryland’s withstood a couple close games, like it dropped in the first matchup, and that could be the difference for this young squad.

2. Does Maryland keep its turnovers down? Maryland ended its first matchup against the Boilermakers with 17 turnovers, with Purdue turning those giveaways into 16 points. Maryland has continued to struggle both with its turnovers and limiting its opponents’ points off turnovers. Maryland doesn’t turn other teams over often—its opponent turnover rate of 14.6 percent is 346th in the nation—so it’s imperative that the Terps don’t give away a lot of free possessions.

3. What type of performance does Anthony Cowan turn in? Maryland’s leading scorer and most experienced starter has had a rough go of late. After scoring in double figures in each of the first 19 games, Cowan has finished in single digits in three of the last five. Part of that is due to how teams are keying in on him, but he’s also not hitting shots that usually fall. That culminated in a season-low five points on 2-of-10 shooting against Nebraska, though Smith and Fernando were able to pick up the slack. Still, Maryland will need him for this contest, and he’s usually locked in for matchups against Edwards.


KenPom: Maryland 73, Purdue 72

Me: Maryland 68, Purdue 65