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Maryland vs. Connecticut preview: Terps take on Huskies at Jimmy V Classic

A couple of evenly matched teams meet up on Broadway.

Connecticut center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis.
Connecticut center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland men's basketball team visits Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night for a Jimmy V Classic tilt with recent national champion Connecticut. The game should be Maryland's last serious test before Big Ten play begins at the New Year, and one of the best games of the evening in college hoops.

The Huskies are off to an up-and-down start, with losses to Syracuse and Gonzaga but also a nice early win against Michigan. They've scheduled a brutal out-of-conference slate, as they now get a fourth quality opponent and still have games against potentially good Ohio State and Texas yet to come. They're nothing if not fearless.

The Terps and Huskies will tip at 9 p.m. EST. You can watch it on ESPN or stream it at WatchESPN.

The coach

Kevin Ollie. 77-35, in his fourth season as a head coach (all at UConn). Won the 2014 national championship.

Players to know

Rodney Purvis, junior, guard, 6'4, No. 44. A onetime blue-chipper at N.C. State, Purvis has really come into himself in his second season since transferring to UConn. He's averaging a team-best 14 points, shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers and and 54 percent on twos. He's an impressive inside-out threat, capable of doing damage with a jumper or the drive.

Amida Brimah, junior, center, 7'0, No. 35. Brimah has enormous upside. He averages 8 points and 5 rebounds, but he can do a lot of different things. He has a 17 percent block rate of all opposing shots, which is the single best figure of all of the thousands of players in college basketball. He has 21 blocks in seven games! He also has a prodigious 135.7 offensive rating, as he shoots 72 percent from the field and 85 percent at the foul line. He's 7 feet. That is stupid.

Daniel Hamilton, sophomore, guard/forward, 6'7, No. 5. Hamilton is a swingman, shooting 33 percent on triples, 47 percent on twos and 83 percent at the line. He's also the team's leading assists man, averaging 6.3 of those per game playing often as the Huskies' de-facto point guard. He's very multidimensional.

Sterling Gibbs, senior, guard, 6'2, No. 4. Gibbs, the younger brother of former Pitt sharpshooter Ashton, is best known for his bloodlines and for this bit of bad behavior when he used to play at Seton Hall. But the younger Gibbs is a pretty good player himself. He's not the same sniper his brother was, but Gibbs has nonetheless chipped in an 11-3-2 average line for the Huskies so far.


Blocking shots. The Huskies – led by Brimah, but with help from his friends – block a full 19.6 percent of opposing teams' shots. That's the best mark in the country, and it's more than twice the 9.2 percent national average.

Suffocating defense in general. This team allows an impressive 63 points per game so far despite playing a really high level of early season competition. The Huskies are No. 17 nationally in opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency, buoyed not just by their interior shot-swatting ability but also sturdy perimeter defense. They only give up 32 percent of opposing triples, which is impressive given the ground they also cover near the basket.


Getting to the foul line. This has been a common flaw in Maryland's opposition so far, and the Huskies are indeed not great at finding the charity stripe. They're 279th in the country in free throws per shot from the field.


KenPom's prediction: Maryland, 70-69. Terps have 51 percent chance to win.

Alex's prediction: Maryland, 76-73.