Denver vs. Maryland (7:00pm ET)
Denver (22-9, 16-2 WAC) – The Basics: Denver is led by 6’6” junior forward Chris Udofia, who leads the Pioneers in scoring (12.9 PPG), assists (3.4 APG), and second on the team in rebounds (4.5 RPG). In their victory over Ohio Tuesday night, Udofia scored 14 points while registering 3 blocks on the inside. Denver likes to go small, usually with a 3 and sometimes 4 guard lineup. Udofia is their tallest starter, so he checks in as Denver’s inside man. But at 6’6”, this is a gift and a curse for the Pioneers. Traditional big men have issues guarding Udofia as he can stretch the floor with his quickness and his jump shot. On the other hand, his lack of size can be trouble on the defensive side against guys who hold 3-6 inches on him. Look for Denver to run either a zone defense or double team Maryland’s big men down low.
Maryland (23-12, 8-10 ACC) – The Basics: Unfortunately for Denver, they’re coming to the Comcast Center at a time when Maryland is playing its best basketball of the season. Despite playing their fifth game in eight days, the Terps are averaging 80 points a game while shooting a ridiculous 48% from the floor. Not to mention their leading scorer Dez Wells (13.1 PPG) is averaging 18.3 PPG over his last 8 games while sophomore guard Nick Faust (9.4 PPG) is averaging 13.3 PPG over his last nine. Faust, who really struggled with his shot earlier this season (similar to his FR year), has been shooting 45% from 3-point range over that nine game stretch. Look for these two, along with big man Alex Len (11.9 PPG) to try and get a running start to tonight’s game and force Denver coach Joe Scott to go to his thin bench early.
Key Matchup: Denver’s Brett Olson vs. Maryland’s Nick Faust
Nick Faust has been hot as of late, but Brett Olson has been hot (especially from behind the arc) all season. He’s second on the team in scoring (11.5 PPG) and he’s shooting an absurd 44% from 3-point range. The Terps struggle guarding the 3, and if Olson gets hot, it could open things up for him on the drive, which would also be trouble for Maryland as Olson is a 95% FT shooter.
Keep an Eye On: depth. Maryland holds a strong advantage as they can go 10-deep. This is a luxury Denver does not have, so if the Pioneers struggle with MD’s size and quickness, it could be a long night for coach Scott and his team.