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Maryland vs. Cleveland State preview: Terps host Vikings in last game before North Carolina

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The Terps have what should be a tuneup game before their toughest matchup of the year.

Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters.
Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2 Maryland men's basketball team hosts Cleveland State on Saturday night at Xfinity Center (7:30 p.m. EST, Big Ten Network). It shouldn't be much of a test for Maryland, whose biggest obstacle in the game is to avoid looking ahead to a titanic non-conference showdown at North Carolina on Tuesday night.

The Vikings are woefully inefficient on offense, but they do create some interesting dilemmas on defense. They've made a couple of NCAA Tournaments in the last decade out of the Horizon League, where they're projected to finish middle-bottom this season. They're off to a 2-3 start, with one of their wins coming by 5 points over old friend Rider.

Cleveland State Vikings (2-3)

The coach

Gary Waters, 10th year. 178-130 at Cleveland State (349-265 overall).

Players to know

Demonte Flannigan, junior, forward, 6'7, No. 33. The Vikings' apparent best player, Flannigan averages a team-leading 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. The problem, here, is that Flannigan hasn't been efficient at all. He is just a 40 percent shooter from the field, and he has an uninspired 77.5 offensive rating, with 100 being a rough baseline for quality, efficient offense. Nonetheless, Flannigan can put numbers together, and he could be a challenge for Maryland's forwards.

Rob Edwards, freshman, guard, 6'3, No. 12. Edwards isn't efficient, either, but he's put together a nice start to his career. He averages 10 points and 4 rebounds from the backcourt. He's just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers.

Andre Yates, junior, guard, 6'2, No. 1. Yates averages 9 points, 4 rebounds and just 1 assist. He's tiny, but he actually profiles as the team's small forward in Ken Pomeroy's offensive footprint ($). That's not his technical listed position, though.

Kenny Carpenter, sophomore, guard, 6'4, No. 4. Carpenter often brings the ball up the court for the Vikings. He averages about 6-2-1 line, and his 118.8 ORtg so far is among the best on the roster.

Strengths

Defensive havoc. The Vikings have a top-10 national turnover rate and steal rate on defense, in total taking the ball away on an impressive 26 percent of opponents' possessions. They'll pressure the ball and force Maryland guards Melo Trimble, Jaylen Brantley and Rasheed Sulaimon to play with exceptional care.

Weaknesses

Shooting. This team is absolutely horrible at making shots, pretty much no matter how you slice it. The Vikings are 334th nationally in both 2-point (37.7 percent) and 3-point (24.7 percent) field goal rate. They're 337th with a 37.4 effective field goal percentage. They just miss a ton of shots, which gives Maryland's defense some margin for sloppiness.

Turnovers on offense. The Vikings turn the ball over on 22.5 percent of their possessions, which is No. 322 in the country. Ball pressure giveth, and ball pressure taketh away.

Predictions

KenPom's prediction: Maryland, 75-58. Terps have 95 percent chance to win.

Alex's prediction: Maryland, 91-55.