The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (11-1) vs IUPUI Jaguars (6-11)
The Time: 3:00 PM ET
The Location: Comcast Center, College Park, Maryland
TV/Radio: ESPN3, 105.7 FM
The Backstory: The Maryland Terrapins have taken care of business in every game but one this season in hopes of heading into ACC play with as good a record as possible. After trouncing Delaware State on the 29th 79-50 thank to Charles Mitchell’s career game, the Terrapins only have one game left until their conference opening matchup against Virginia Tech. But before that, they have to beat IUPUI.
The Jaguars are coming into this game struggling this season at 6-11. They haven’t made the tournament since 2003, and this year is unlikely to be any different, as their team simply can’t put complete games together. The Jaguars rely on two players to do the brunt of their scoring, senior guard John Hart (14.7 PPG) and junior center Mitchell Patton (13.7 PPG). The two of them are the only players scoring in double figures this year, and respectively they give IUPUI and inside-outside game.
Hart is an occasional deep threat, as he is hitting 39% of his three pointers on the season, while Patton is a very efficient scorer who is managing to shoot almost 60% from the floor over 17 games. Unfortunately, that’s about all they do very well as Patton is not a very good rebounder and Hart is only a scorer. Hart, in particular, turns the ball over at an alarming rate (he averages 3 turnovers a game). Most recently, he had eight turnovers in a big loss against Oakland.
Outside of those two, there isn’t much to like about this squad. There’s always 6’7 forward Donovan Gibbs, who has at times this season proven to be a solid scorer and an offensive threat, but if he doesn’t have it going things could get ugly pretty quickly.
Keys to the game:
1.) Force lots of turnovers
If the Terrapins want to turn this into an ugly game really early, they should try to get their hands on as many balls and into as many passing lanes as humanly possible, because this team is careless with the ball. We’re talking even more careless than the Terrapins are. They average 14 turnovers a game, and against some of the better teams they’ve played it has been an absolute massacre thanks to their butter fingers.
If the Terrapins can force turnovers by utilizing a full-court press early and getting the Jaguars guards to make mistakes, then the Terps could be smooth sailing before the midway mark of this game.
2.) A hot start
If there’s one thing the Terrapins haven’t done incredibly well this year, it’s get off to a hot start. If they can do that, then it means more rest for them before their first ACC game, because some sharp shooting and smart play will be enough to man handle this team. That means Alex Len should get the ball early, Dez Wells should slash and facilitate, and perhaps a few three point shots going in right off the bat. Doing that will ensure a Terrapins victory and a 12-1 record before Virginia Tech.
Prediction: The Maryland Terrapins win this one by 25 as they hold the IUPUI Jaguars to a terrible game offensively. The Terps start the New Year off right with a big W and momentum heading into ACC play.