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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Navy preview

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The Terps start their multi-team event against the Midshipmen.

Old Dominion v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Maryland men’s basketball continues its opening week slate Friday with a game against the Navy Midshipmen.

Friday’s contest will be the second of a stretch that includes four games in seven days, capped off by a Sunday matchup with Mount St. Mary’s and a Tuesday game against Towson, which replaces Monmouth after the Hawks program announced a positive coronavirus test.

Maryland opened its 2020-21 season with an 85-67 win over Old Dominion Wednesday, with the trio of Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell each delivering promising starts as the new leaders of the team. The frontcourt, with transfer starters Jairus Hamilton and Galin Smith and backups Donta Scott and Chol Marial, showed potential as well. Mark Turgeon’s team still has unanswered questions, but these upcoming games can help answer them.

Maryland last faced Navy in 2018, winning 78-57 in Annapolis as part of the Veterans Classic. Both teams enter this matchup 1-0, with Navy picking up a 78-71 victory Wednesday over George Washington.

The Terps and Midshipmen are scheduled to tip off at 3 p.m. ET Friday on the Big Ten Network.

Navy Midshipmen (1-0)

2019-20 record: 14-16 (8-10 Patriot League)

Head coach Ed DeChellis is in his 10th year leading the Navy program and his 25th overall season as a head coach. DeChellis has amassed a 115-166 record with the Midshipmen, including a 20-12 record back in 2018-19, which was the first 10-win Navy season since 1999-2000.

DeChellis is one of 10 active Division I coaches to have reached at least 100 wins at three different programs, with his journey including stops at East Tennessee State and Penn State before Navy.

Players to know

Cam Davis, senior guard, 6’0, 183 lbs., No. 22. Davis played a team-high 33 minutes in the season opener and tallied 15 points, seven assists and two rebounds. Last season, Davis averaged 16.8 points and 2.7 assists per game as a junior and cemented himself as an upperclassmen leader. Davis scored 12 points in 32 minutes of action against the Terps in 2018.

John Carter Jr., junior guard, 6’3, 195 lbs., No. 1. Carter burst onto the scene as a freshman, earning Patriot League all-rookie honors in 2019. As a sophomore, he started all 30 games and averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. To kick off his junior campaign, Carter led Navy with 17 points, including a 4-of-6 mark from three-point range, and added six assists.

Tyler Nelson, sophomore forward, 6’6, 214 lbs., No. 5. The Naval Academy is often mismatched in the frontcourt due to weight limits for midshipmen, but Nelson was able to hold his own against the Colonials. Nelson finished the season opener with 12 points, four assists and three rebounds. He also shot 5-of-7 from the field, including hitting both of his three-point attempts.

Strength

Starting fast. Navy’s season-opening win came thanks to a strong start against George Washington, as the Midshipmen led 20-7 less than six minutes into the game. Maryland is a team that has struggled at times to get going, and Navy has a chance to take advantage.

Weakness

Consistency. Even though the Midshipmen started hot and won, they did struggle down the stretch and let George Washington back in the game. Navy shot a strong 54.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range in the first half, but saw those numbers drop to 42.4 percent and 36.4 percent, respectively, after the break.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland take advantage in the frontcourt? The Terps will have a clear height advantage against Navy, and will rely on Chol Marial and Galin Smith to make a difference. The two combined for just 13 points and eight rebounds against Old Dominion, but will need to generate more on both ends of the floor to make this an easy affair.

2. Can the Terps continue shooting well? Led by Eric Ayala’s perfect 6-of-6 shooting performance, Maryland shot a strong 47.6 percent from the field, including 51.5 percent in the second half. The Terps also drained 10-of-23 three-pointers (43.5 percent), up from 31.1 percent as a team last season. Navy showed a lack of consistency in the second half against George Washington, so a strong, balanced attack for 40 minutes would be beneficial for the Terps.

3. Who will solidify themselves in the rotation? Turgeon mentioned after Wednesday’s game that he still feels more comfortable with the veterans than the newcomers on this team, but he’s high on the Terps’ depth. While Scott (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Old Dominion) and Marial will get their minutes, this game could be an opportunity for a backcourt player like Hakim Hart or Aquan Smart to make a statement.

Predictions

Vegas: N/A

ESPN BPI: Maryland 86.7% chance to win

KenPom: Maryland 76, Navy 61 (91% chance to win)

Me: Maryland 82, Navy 68