The Maryland basketball team returned to the top five in the AP Top 25 on Monday, following a big win at home against Iowa, breaking a three-week hiatus. The Terps will look to start a winning streak on the road as they head to Pinnacle Bank Arena in Nebraska to take on the Huskers for an 8:30 p.m. EST Wednesday tipoff on the Big Ten Network.
This game should serve as the cupcake of the week – Nebraska lost to Samford by double-digits in late December. – for the No. 4 Terrapins, before they return home later in the week to face No. 24 Purdue. If all goes well, it could be a building week for the Terps in their journey to the top, as No. 2 North Carolina fell Monday night to No. 21 Louisville.
Let's take a look at what Maryland's up against for a first and only time in regular season play.
Nebraska Huskers (12-10, 4-5)
Tim Miles is 59-59 coaching at Nebraska for four years and went 71-88 at Colorado State, where he coached for five years. Speaking of coaches, former Husker Tyronn Lue just got the Cleveland Cavaliers' coaching gig, so things aren't all bad.
Players to know
Andrew White, junior, guard, 6'7, No. 3. White is the fifth-leading scorer in the Big Ten and a better shooter than those that top him by a wide margin. He fires at 51.2 percent from the field, including 61 percent from 2-point range and 42.5 percent from 3-point range. Along with points, he also leads his team in rebounding, as he averages 6 per game and seems to be the do-it-all player for this top-heavy squad. Like Maryland's Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon, White has come in as an immediate impact transfer, making his way to Lincoln from Kansas.
Shavon Shields, senior, forward, 6'7, No. 31. A two-year co-captain, the senior has spent all four years developing his game as a Husker, where he never averaged fewer than 28.7 minutes per game. Shields is a scorer, as he sports the team's second-best per game points average at 15.8. Unlike White, his game isn't very stretched out, as he's much more of an inside shooter. He also averages a team-best 2.9 assists per game.
Tai Webster, junior, guard, 6'4, No. 0. The guard from New Zealand is the team's third-leading scorer at 10.3 per game, but he's played well against top talent already. He shot 7-of-11 against Iowa last month for 22 points and added 5 rebounds. He shoots efficiently, too, at 53 percent from 2-point range and 40.5 percent from 3-point range.
Offensive efficiency. Nebraska's offense runs pretty smoothly behind three good shooters. They rank No. 57 in KenPom's efficiency measures, ranking above Wisconsin, Northwestern and Ohio State. Following a defensive display of the year-type effort against Iowa, Maryland should have no trouble handling Nebraska's smaller bigs and wings.
Defensive rebounding. Something that the Terps have struggled to do recently, the much smaller Cornhuskers haven't, as they rank No. 46 in defensive glass efficiency, per KenPom. Nebraska will have its work cut-out this time, however, as Maryland, the second-tallest team in the country on average, starts a taller small forward (Jake Layman), than the Huskers do a center.
Letting teams get to the line. Essentially Nebraska fouls on a hefty amount of field goal attempts, giving the opposition a lot of chances to score points with the clock stopped. With the Terps' starters combining to shoot 79.8 percent from the stripe, there's no reason Maryland shouldn't look to create contact at the rim.
Getting to the line themselves.. Fouls don't appear to go in a positive direction for the Cornhuskers, as they have trouble creating them as much as they struggle giving them. They rank 224th in the nation in total points percentage from the free throw line per KenPom.
KenPom: Maryland, 74-68. Terps have a 72 percent chance to win.
Matt: I'll predict 82-64 Maryland, and we finally get another look at the depths of the Terps' bench.