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Maryland basketball's defensive rebounding has become a serious problem

The advanced statistical review of Maryland's loss to Michigan State.

One Michigan State player, getting his hand to the ball in the middle of three Maryland players.
One Michigan State player, getting his hand to the ball in the middle of three Maryland players.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland men's basketball team lost by 9 points to Michigan State on Saturday night, and the autopsy isn't a complicated one.

The Terps lost this game by failing to corral defensive rebounds and being outscored by 10 points at the foul line. The fouls discrepancy – Maryland gave up 29 free throw attempts and only got 16 – owes largely to officiating and Michigan State playing on its home court. But the rebounding, well, that's on Maryland. And it's become a real problem.

Here's a look at how Maryland fared in the "four factors" of team efficiency: effective field goal percentage (eFG%), turnover percentage (TOV%), offensive rebounding percentage (ORB%) and free throws per field goal attempt (FTA/FGA).


Maryland: 45.6 eFG% // Michigan State: 41.8 eFG% // National average: 49.7 eFG%

As usual, Maryland's problems didn't come from shooting. The Terps were better from the field than Michigan State, albeit just barely, and outscored the Spartans from the field, 53-52. Maryland's field goal defense was strong again, and the Terps' own shooting was mediocre but not outrageously bad for a road game against Michigan State.


Maryland: 12.3 TOV% // Michigan State: 9.8 TOV% // National average: 18.4 TOV%

This wasn't Maryland's problem, either. The Spartans are one of the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers, and Maryland managed to secure the basketball quite well, at least once it already controlled it. It was Maryland's second best turnover percentage of the year on offense (behind the win against Penn State on Dec. 30). On defense, however, Maryland made turnovers a total non-factor. Maryland finished with nine and Michigan State with eight, with the Spartans winning on fast-break points, 18-10.


Maryland: 17.6 ORB% // Michigan State: 38.1 ORB% // National average: 30.1 ORB%

Here's where it gets gross. Maryland lost 17-9 in offensive rebounds, and it was fitting that the last nail in the Terps' coffin was Spartan forward Matt Costello's recouping of a missed shot in the final 30 seconds, when Maryland could've had the ball down just 3 points by boxing out.

It's worth expounding a bit on rebounding, because it's become a real issue for the Terps. This is the second game in a row in which Maryland has allowed 17 offensive rebounds, and it could've easily been a second-straight loss. Maryland's four worst defensive rebounding games, by percentage, have come against Northwestern, Michigan State, Cleveland State and Georgetown.

Let's go ahead and discount cupcake Cleveland State, and consider that Maryland is 6 points away from being 0-3 in its three worst defensive rebounding games against power-conference opposition. Box out, Terrapins.

Free throw attempts

Maryland: 0.281 FTA/FGA // Michigan State: 0.476 FTA/FGA // National average: 0.366 FTA/FGA

The officiating on Saturday night wasn't great for Maryland. The Spartans got away with a healthy amount of arm-barring on offense, and Maryland's big men – particularly Robert Carter Jr. – were whistled liberally on at least four or five occasions. That's life as a road team, sometimes, and Maryland paid at the foul line. The Spartans took 13 more foul shots than Maryland and made 10 more, and that doesn't wear well when a team loses by 9 points.