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Maryland vs. Purdue preview: Terps visit Boilermakers with chance for quality win

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The Terps face one of their most challenging games of the year.

Sung Min Kim/Testudo Times

The Maryland men's basketball team has a chance to turn the recent narrative about it on its head when it visits Purdue on Saturday in West Lafayette.

Lately, Maryland has struggled to play well on the road or anywhere. The Terps haven't had an unqualified good win since these same Boilermakers visited College Park on Feb. 6, and they've slid to their lowest ranking of the season this week, ninth in the AP Top 25. The Terps can flip that script, in a game that tips on ESPN at 4 p.m. EST.

Purdue Boilermakers (21-7, 9-6 Big Ten)

The coach

Matt Painter is 233-132 in 11 seasons at Purdue. He previously coached one 25-5 season at Southern Illinois before replacing Gene Keady in West Lafayette in 2005.

Players to know

A.J. Hammons, senior, center, 7'0, No. 20. Hammons is an all-conference player and the best one Purdue has. He averages 15 points and 8 rebounds. He blocks shots, makes his free throws and is a general two-way force.

Isaac Haas, sophomore, center, 7'2, No. 44. Painter usually splits up Haas and Hammons, so Purdue has a troll-sized big man at the five spot for just about the entire game. "Small ball" is not a thing for the Boilers. Haas averages 10 points and 4 boards and is similar to Hammons, except he's not quite as dominant and he's a bit wider.

Rapheal Davis, senior, guard, 6'5, No. 35. Davis is the Big Ten's reigning defensive player of the year and a brilliant wing stopper who averages 9 points and 4 rebounds. He makes 38 percent of his threes and can slash a little bit, making him a challenging player to handle on both ends of the court.

P.J. Thompson, sophomore, guard, 5'10, No. 3. Thompson is Purdue's truest point guard, and he does that job really well. He has an outrageous 136 offensive rating this year, because he shoots 40 percent on threes and 80 percent at the foul line – and pairs those splits with strong turnover and assist numbers.

Vince Edwards, sophomore, guard/forward, 6'7, No. 12. Edwards sometimes plays as an oversized point guard, and he's just a generally versatile player with a lot of athleticism. He averages 10 points, one of just three Boilers (along with Haas and Hammons) to sit in double figures.

Strengths

Defense. Purdue is still one of the hardest teams to score on in the entire country. The Boilers give up just 64 points per game (19th) and place 10th in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted per-possession efficiency. They don't give up easy shots inside or outside, and they keep teams off the foul line.

Offensive rebounding. This could be a problem for the Terrapins. Purdue grabs back 36 percent of its missed shots, the 28th-best rate in the country, and gives itself plenty of extra chances to score points. Hammons, Edwards guard Johnny Hill and five-star freshman forward Caleb Swanigan are the ringleaders in this department.

Weaknesses

Forcing turnovers. There are few trouble spots in Purdue's statistical profile, and perhaps this one isn't, either, given how well the Boilermakers defend shots. But they don't get a lot of steals: They're 344th in the country in turnover rate on defense, flipping possession on just 14 percent of opposing trips up the court.

Predictions

KenPom: Purdue, 71-66. The Boilermakers have a 68 percent chance to win.

Alex: Purdue, 73-65.