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Maryland men’s basketball vs No. 4 Ohio State preview

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The Terps face yet another top-10 Big Ten team.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing loss to Penn State Friday, Maryland men’s basketball returns to action Monday night in College Park, hosting No. 4 Ohio State.

The Buckeyes will mark the 10th ranked team that the Terrapins have faced in Big Ten play out of 13 league games. On top of that, Ohio State will mark the fifth top 10 team Maryland has faced.

Last time out, Maryland struggled mightily on offense against Penn State in a disappointing 55-50 loss. The Terps shot just 35.4 percent from the field and Eric Ayala was the only player to reach double-figures.

“Penn State was terrific on defense, their rotation was spot on and they did a great job,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We failed to run a few plays right late and then we missed some open shots too.

“That’s the thing about the league is like, even last year when we won the league, it got really hard to score some nights. We just had such good players and we’d still do it, and then we’d have to make changes. So you always have to keep trying to stay ahead of your competition, and we weren’t ahead of it offensively the other night.”

Ohio State enters Monday’s game winners of its last four, including a key four-point win over No. 8 Iowa Thursday.

Tipoff between Maryland and Ohio State is set for 9 p.m. and the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

Ohio State (15-4, 9-4 Big Ten)

2019-20 record: 21-10, 11-9

Head coach Chris Holtmann is in his fourth season leading the Ohio State program, a tenure that included being named 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Holtmann has led his programs to 20-win season in each of the last eight season, dating back to his final year with Gardner-Webb. Ohio State saw a large bump in Holtmann’s first season, winning the Big Ten with a 25-9, 10-3 record. Holtmann has taken his last five teams to the NCAA Tournament (sans 2020) and each team won at least one game.

“Ohio State’s terrific,” Turgeon said. “They’re a great team. They got really, really good players and they’re well coached. They’re very disciplined. They’re a little bit older with certain positions, so they’ll challenge us.”

Players to know

EJ Liddell, sophomore forward, 6-foot-7, 240 lbs., No. 32 — Liddell has played and started in 17 of Ohio State’s 19 games this season and leads the program with 15.6 points per game. On top of shooting 50.9 percent from the floor, Liddell also leads the Buckeyes with 6.9 rebounds per game. Across the Big Ten Liddell ranks ninth in scoring, sixth in field goal percentage and 11th in rebounding.

Duane Washington Jr., junior guard, 6-foot-3, 210 lbs., No. 4 — Ohio State’s backcourt is led by Washington Jr., who averages 3.05 assists per game. While the Buckeyes average a league-worst 12.74 assists per game, Washington does add 14.6 points as a scoring guard. With 2.7 made three-point field goals per game, Washington leads all players in the Big Ten in that category and is second to Jordan Bohannon in three-point shooting percentage at 36.9.

Justice Sueing, redshirt junior forward, 6-foot-7, 215 lbs., No. 14 — Sueing transferred to Ohio State this season after two seasons at Cal. With the Buckeyes lacking size inside, Sueing has been putting in effort on both ends of the floor, scoring 10.6 points and pulling down 5.7 rebounds per game.

Strength

Offense. Ohio State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring at 79.7 points per game. The Buckeyes also sit fourth in margin, scoring 9.1 more points per game than they allow. Maryland does sit third in the Big Ten with just 66.1 points per game allowed, but the defense will truly be tested Monday.

Weakness

Forcing turnovers. The Buckeyes sit ninth in the Big Ten with a turnover margin of just 0.16 per game. On top of that, the team sits last in the conference with just 4.37 steals per game, meaning it relies on mistakes from others to create extra opportunities.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland use a different approach against an even shorter team? Maryland seemed to have it made Friday facing a Penn State team with no player taller than 6-foot-9, but Monday’s matchup provides a chance at redemption. Ohio State has two players at 6-foot-7 and three at 6-foot-8, but nobody taller. The Terps’ plan of going small did not work well against Penn State, so Monday’s matchup could be an opportunity to try an execute better or come up with a new strategy.

2. How will the Terps keep up with the deep Buckeyes rotation? Ohio State has nine players who average at least 10 minutes per game, including all five players listed at 6-foot-7 or taller. Maryland only has Jairus Hamilton, Donta Scott and Galin Smith among the seven players with 10 or more minutes per game, meaning they will face much fresher bodies on the court. The Buckeyes rotate in 6-foot-8 forwards Zed Key, Kyle Young and transfer Seth Towns consistently with Young getting 25.7 minutes per game.

“We’ve just got to control the tempo. I think that’s big for us,” Turgeon said. “We’re trying to sub more, you know, we played Aquan the other night, we played a certain way, because we thought it would help us defensively, which it did. But yeah, we’re not as deep as we need to be and [Ohio State is] one of the deeper teams in the league.”

3. Can Maryland respond with its back against the wall? With March around the corner, this is the time where teams solidify their resumes and hope to earn a ticket to the big dance. Maryland is currently a bubble team with four top 25 wins, but the loss to Penn State escalated concerns about the Terps’ ability to be consistent and separate themselves from those in the middle of the pack. While Ohio State is a team the Terps are not expected to beat, a strong showing could be a key spark moving forward.

Predictions

Vegas: Ohio State -4 (Over/Under 138.5)

ESPN BPI: Maryland 32.4% chance to win

KenPom: Ohio State 72, Maryland 69 (Maryland 39% chance to win)

Me: Ohio State 75, Maryland 66

* Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect Ohio State moving to No. 4 in the latest AP Top 25 poll released Monday afternoon.