Two of the Maryland men's basketball team's four most lopsided losses of the last three seasons have come at the hands of the same team: Ohio State, which visits Xfinity Center for a noon tip on Saturday on ESPN2.
The Buckeyes whomped Maryland last season, 80-56, and the season before that, 76-60. That's a 40-point margin of defeat across two games, both at the Buckeyes' Value City Arena in Columbus.
"They've whipped us pretty good both games," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Friday. " I think we cut it to eight or 10 in the second half [two years ago], but it was never really that close last year. They run a lot of the same things. We've got to guard their sets a little bit better, but they've just got so much talent. That's really the key."
In the 2013-14 season, Maryland took a 20-point loss at Pitt and a 24-point drubbing at Florida State, back to back. Other than that, though, the Buckeyes have wrought the worst of the worst on Maryland. In dominating the Terps on the scoreboard, Thad Matta's team has broken Maryland at every turn. The combined totals are ugly: a 156-116 scoreline, backed by, in sum, 43-of-123 (34.9 percent) shooting on the Terrapins' part.
"We know that they play hard and they're a really good team," Maryland guard Varun Ram said. "No matter what their record is, they always come to play, especially against us. I know the last few years, we left Ohio State with a pretty bad taste in our mouth. We definitely remember that. A lot of the guys have been a part of that or seen that on TV, and we definitely want to change things."
Forward Jake Layman said the Terps were placing particular emphasis on the glass after the gaudy rebounding margins the Buckeyes posted on them in the two previous games.
Times are a little different now, of course. Ohio State has won eight of its last nine games but is still just 12-6 overall, with early losses to Texas-Arlington and Louisiana Tech blemishing its resume. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 59 in Ken Pomeroy's index, with a strong defense (No. 20 in adjusted efficiency) but a lousy offense (No. 154).
The Buckeyes' most important player, for the second year in a row, is a freshman. Rookie point guard JaQuan Lyle hasn't been nearly as productive as predecessor D'Angelo Russell, but he notched the fifth triple-double in program history in a win against Rutgers on Wednesday: 16 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
Lyle is far from perfect, however. He shoots sub-30 percent on 3-pointers, sub-50 percent on 2-pointers and 62 percent from the foul line, limiting his production thus far. His best asset is playmaking, and he assists on almost 40 percent of the Buckeyes' baskets whenever he's on the court.
"He's a great player," Layman said. "Especially in ball screens, we need to try to contain him as much as possible, and if we do that, we just need to get out to shooters."
Maryland is a 10-point favorite, and it's nearly impossible that the Terps would be routed on their home floor in the same fashion they've seen in the past against Ohio State. But the Buckeyes, even on the road, are a stiff test.
Turgeon said Maryland was looking into film from last year's game, but not two years ago's, in pregame preparation.
"They're a good team. They've got our full attention. They whipped us last year pretty good. I know it's two different teams, but I like to think the building's going to be live [Saturday]. We haven't been here in a while," Turgeon said. "Our guys will be ready."