No. 15 Maryland men’s basketball is set to play its first game of 2020 against Indiana as the season fully shifts to Big Ten play.
The Terps are coming off an 84-70 win over Bryant, but lost the two contests before that against Penn State and Seton Hall. They’re hoping to improve to a 2-1 record in Big Ten play with a win over the Hoosiers. The conference looks to be quite deep this year, with 11 teams in the top-50 in the nation in NET rankings, including five in the top-20.
“You just got to do the best you can every game, every night, and know it’s going to be a grind,” head coach Mark Turgeon said Friday. “I think this will be the single hardest league season that I’ll go through as a player and/or as a coach to this point in my life.”
Tipoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on Fox.
Indiana Hoosiers (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten)
Head coach Archie Miller is in his third season as head coach of the Hoosiers after manning the helm at Dayton from 2011-17. Miller led the Flyers to two Atlantic-10 regular season championships and four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight run in 2014, and is hoping to replicate the same success with the Hoosiers. The young coach has landed the best player in the state of Indiana over the past two seasons in Romeo Langford and Trayce Jackson-Davis, but he looks to improve Indiana’s 19-16 record from 2018-19.
Players to know
Trayce Jackson-Davis, freshman forward, 6’9, 245 lbs, No. 4. Jackson-Davis leads Indiana in scoring, rebounding and blocking in just his freshman season, averaging 15.4 points, 8.7 boards and 2.0 swats per contest. The forward, who was named Mr. Indiana Basketball after his senior season of high school, is hitting shots with incredible accuracy so far for the Hoosiers, shooting 66.4 percent from the floor. And while he is great inside, Jackson-Davis isn’t as versatile from long range as he hasn’t attempted a three-pointer all season.
“It’s gonna be interesting to see how we go out there and execute our game plan,” Eric Ayala said. “I don’t think we’re going to put the pressure on one person and just say, ‘Oh, you got to guard him.’ You know, I think as we come together and play team defense, I think we should do a good job on him.”
Devonte Green, senior guard, 6’3, 185 lbs, No. 11. Green brings key leadership to the Hoosiers as the only senior in the starting lineup. The brother of NBA Champion Danny Green is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game, and he is also second in terms of three-point percentage among regular players with a 38.6 percentage from behind the arc. Green didn’t start earlier this season as he recovered from a hamstring injury, but he’s been in the starting lineup for Indiana’s last four games and should be against the Terps.
Justin Smith, junior forward, 6’7, 230 lbs, No. 3. Smith averages 29.9 minutes per game, earning more playing time than anyone on Miller’s roster. After averaging 8.2 points per game a season ago, Smith now puts up 12.2 points per contest — good for third on the team. The junior also averages 5.5 boards a night and leads the Hoosiers with 18 steals so far in 2019-20.
Shooting. Indiana doesn’t miss that often from inside. The team boasts a 47.9 field goal percentage so far in 2019-20, which ranks second in the Big Ten — one of the only categories of which it is in the top-three in the league. Additionally, the Hoosiers have made 55.0 percent of their two-point attempts, which is good for 28th-best in the nation.
Three-point shooting. Quite similarly to the Terps, the Hoosiers have struggled to shoot it from behind the arc so far this season. The team is shooting 31.4 percent on three-pointers, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten, also averaging 5.4 deep balls made per game, which is second-worst in the conference. No Indiana player with more than one attempt is shooting better than 40 percent on three-point shots, with guard Aljami Durham as the best option from long range at 39 percent.
Three things to watch
1. How much does Chol Marial play against a higher level of competition? The 7’2 freshman had an impressive debut against Bryant, finishing with six points (3-of-4 shooting), five rebounds, a block and assist in 14 minutes.
Marial and 6’10 Jalen Smith played together for a short period of time against Bryant, which allowed Smith to play at his more natural four position. As Marial’s minutes increase, this could be a more likely occurrence, which will surely help the team.
“Him taking a load on the inside and being able to push me out to the wing just made more space on the floor,” Smith said. “It’s going to help me out a lot, allow me to play a different position for a while now. And just being able to play out on the wing, show versatility and just be able to create offense for my team.”
Turgeon said that Marial practiced with the top-seven guys this week so he could feel out play with Smith more, though he added he doesn’t know how much the duo will play together tomorrow.
2. Does Maryland handle the ball better? While this didn’t look to be a problem to start the season, Turgeon’s squad has averaged 17.67 turnovers per game over its last three games, and its opponents have scored an average 17.33 points off those mistakes. As Big Ten play gets fully underway and the level of competition increases, it’s crucial that Maryland displays better ball control and decision-making to limit turnovers.
3. Will the Terps’ show some different defensive looks? Through the early-goings of this season, Maryland was showing several different defensive schemes, switching from man to zones to presses, and even incorporating some ball screen options. Doing so allowed the team to force more turnovers and score a ton of points in transition, which could be a big advantage in conference play.
“Yeah, we’ll see. You know, we’re still trying to build the right depth,” Turgeon said. “They’re still in there and we practice them. Every game is different, we might use two defenses against Indiana, or three, or you know how we’re going to guard ball screens or whatever. And it might be totally different than next game.”
Vegas: Maryland -8, O/U 139.5 (as of Friday night)
ESPN BPI: Maryland 80.2% chance to win
KenPom: Maryland 74, Indiana 67 (Maryland 76% chance to win)
Me: Maryland 76, Indiana 71