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Maryland vs. Ohio State preview: Terps look for encore win over Buckeyes

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The Terps pulverized the Buckeyes in College Park. Now, they're returning to an unfriendly place.

Sung-Min Kim/Testudo Times

Maryland and Ohio State have played three times in the last three seasons. None of them have been very compelling, with Ohio State stomping Maryland in Columbus the two seasons before this and Maryland, in a vengeful fit, dropping a 100-point disembowelment on the Buckeyes at Xfinity Center just two weeks ago. They meet again on Sunday, at 1 p.m. EST on CBS.

For predictive purposes, the most recent game means the most, and perhaps Maryland is primed for a big run after beating No. 3 Iowa on Thursday, before a quick pivot toward Ohio State. But the Terrapins will have to bury whatever demons have ruined them on their recent visits to Value City Arena.

Let's get reacquainted with Ohio State.

Ohio State Buckeyes (14-8, 6-3 Big Ten)

The coach

Thad Matta is 313-102 in 12 seasons leading the Buckeyes. He's done stints at Butler and Xavier.

Players to know

Marc Loving, junior, forward, 6'7, No. 2. The veteran sharpshooter is in a bit of a funk this season. After clicking at 46 on 3-pointers last season, Loving is down to 33 percent so far as a junior, and he's 7-of-30 from beyond the arc in his last seven games. Much like Maryland's Jared Nickens, another currently cold shooter, much of Loving's value is tied up in his long shots going through the basket. He doesn't get to the line much and isn't scary around the hoop.

JaQuan Lyle, freshman, guard, 6'5, No. 13. Lyle isn't as good a defender as predecessor Aaron Craft or as dynamic an offensive threat as D'Angelo Russell, but he's an athletic and dangerous freshman floor general. He averages 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists from the Buckeyes' backcourt.

Keita Bates-Diop, sophomore, forward, 6'7, No. 33. No rotation players other than centers Trevor Thompson and Daniel Giddens are taller than 6'7. That puts the athletic but smallish Bates-Diop in a matchup on Maryland's Robert Carter Jr., which won't be too fun for Bates-Diop. He's good, though, and averages 12 points and 6 boards. He's also a 35 percent 3-point shooter, so watch for Carter and Bates-Diop to have to chase one another out to the perimeter.

Jae'Sean Tate, sophomore, forward, 6'4, No. 1. The Big Ten's leading field goal shooter as a freshman last year, Tate's been uneven as a sophomore. His offensive rating is down from 109 to 103, mostly because his 2-point shooting has declined from 63 to 55 percent.  He's added a 3-point shot this year (35 percent on just 31 tries), but Tate is only effective if he's getting to the rim and scoring. He certainly has that in him.

Kam Williams, sophomore, guard, 6'2, No. 15. The Baltimore native is an athletic marvel who can run faster and jump higher than just about everyone else on the floor. He's still a bit of an unfinished product, though, only averaging 8 points and 2 rebounds. His best asset this season: 47 percent shooting on triples – 12 points better than any of his teammates.

Strengths

Field goal defense. The Buckeyes don't make shot-making easy. They've held opponents to 44.7 percent effective shooting on the season and 46.3 percent in Big Ten play. Despite not having a bunch of really tall players, they have at least some length all over the floor and aren't a fun team to shoot over, as they block 15.5 percent of all opposing shots, the No. 5 mark in the country. (Last time around, Maryland torched this defense, and that was impressive.)

Athleticism. The Buckeyes have crazy athletic players all over their rotation. Nobody here is easy to blow past on the drive, and everyone can run and jump. This is basically just Matta's recruiting. Ohio State added five four-star freshmen this year, and three of them get fewer than 15 minutes per game. They added three four-stars the year before and two the year before that. The pedigree here is really off the charts.

Weaknesses

Foul shooting. The Buckeyes are 300th nationally in free-throw percentage, making 65.4 percent of their shots. Put another way, they miss 34.6 of them. (Math!) That's not a promising figure.

Turnovers. Like Maryland, Ohio State has had giveaway issues. The Buckeyes turn the ball over on 19.4 percent of possessions, including a 15 percent mark in league play that's 12th out of 14 teams.

Predictions

KenPom: Maryland, 69-65. Terps have a 65 percent chance to win.

Alex: There won't be a blowout here, not in Columbus. But Ohio State hasn't beaten anyone good since Kentucky on Dec. 19, and there's no standout reason heading into the game that Maryland shouldn't be able to handle business.

Maryland, 76-69.