Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (2-2) vs Northern Iowa (2-2)
The Time: 7:00 pm EST
The Location: University of the Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands
The Coaches: Mark Turgeon (third season, 43-29 and Ben Jacobson (sixth season, 150-86)
Where To Watch: TVGN.tv or CBSSportsNetwork
The Build Up: Maryland, fresh off their 68-43 drubbing of Marist in the first round of the Paradise Jam, now sets their sights on Northern Iowa, a program with a solid track record of success and a very good coach. The Terrapins got off to their standard slow start against Marist, scoring only 26 points and hitting a meager 33% of their shots from the field. Fortunately for the Terps, the one aspect that never left them was their stingy defense.
Maryland held Marist to 26% shooting from the floor and in truth, probably could have ended up with a better number had they not thrown in subs at the end of the game. When Maryland plays that brand of hard-nosed D, it doesn’t matter that only one of their starters (Jake Layman with 16) and two players (the other being Charles Mitchell with 12) overall finished in double figures. They have enough left in the arsenal to beat down teams like Marist. But they won’t be able to ride a couple Jake Layman runs against a team like Northern Iowa.
The Panthers dominated the Loyola Marymount Lions on the offensive end so badly in the first half of their 90-81 victory, their average defensive second half sufficed just fine to win the game pretty handily. Northern Iowa hit 10-of-14 three pointers in the first half to go up 53-36, and drained 28-of-39 free throws to keep the offense going through the second half. Deon Mitchell, UNI’s speedy guard, dropped a team high 23 points, big man Seth Tuttle had a 21 point, 11 rebound double-double, and guard Matt Bohannon had 22 points on 5 of 7 from deep. They took care of Loyola Marymount, and that is far from a bad team.
Consider yourself warned about this team heading into tomorrow’s matchup. These guys can ball with anyone when they’re on offensively. The Panthers are extremely talented at moving the ball around, like to push the pace, and can drain triple after triple against you if you’re not careful. Northern Iowa’s guards are fantastic at penetrating and dishing the ball out to perimeter shooters, and while Wes Washpun isn’t the best shooter, the Tennessee transfer is a very capable facilitator who gets players the ball at the right time. They may be 2-2, but they’re a very dangerous 2-2 team with OK losses against two talented teams (George Mason and Ohio).
The Suspects To Watch For…
Wes Washpun and Deon Mitchell
To be brief, these two guys are the cogs that make the watch work. Mitchell and Washpun are both rail-thin guards, but they play very well off one another and know how to get the ball to open shooters. More often than not, Mitchell will quickly bring the ball up the court, penetrate into the lane, and kick it out to an open shooter who can either take the shot (because most of their team can shoot well from deep) or swing it around for a better look. Both guards do it exceptionally well, but the difference is that Mitchell is a shooting threat as well. Washpun is a do-it-all guy. He’s a terrible shooter, but he rebounds incredibly well for a guard, has good vision, blocks shots, steals balls — you name it. When he’s out on the court, you’ll slowly but surely get to know this guy.
Their big guy may be listed at 6’8, but he plays a whole lot bigger than that in reality. Tuttle is very long, pretty athletic, and plays an active role on both ends of the floor. Northern Iowa takes advantage of the fact that Tuttle can handle and pass the ball well by letting him initiate the break whenever he gets the ball. Tuttle does a good job of playing in the paint, but more importantly he isn’t a black hole when he gets the ball on the block. He’s also aggressive, and may arguably be the best player on their team at getting to the line.
Tuttle is also a competent defender. He sends shots away at a pretty good rate, and blocked two shots against Loyola Marymount. Maryland is shorter than most teams, so Tuttle might give Mitchell and Cleare some problems. He does have a propensity to get into foul trouble, but Northern Iowa’s coach isn’t about to take one of his best players out of the game.
I Like Turtles If They…
1.) Stay out of foul trouble
This is going to be incredibly important against Northern Iowa. Maryland as a team has to play sound fundamental D against these guys or they’re going to be watching Deon Mitchell shoot free throws all game long. Northern Iowa averages 22.6 free throw attempts per game this season, and attacks the basket a lot. They’ll get your guards into foul trouble reaching, and your forwards into foul trouble on drives to the basket.
It’s highly likely that Maryland will play Northern Iowa man-to-man, so preventing their two guards from penetrating could help mitigate their ability to dish the ball out. Which brings me to my next point..
2.) Don’t let their guards penetrate
If Maryland can accomplish this, they should win this game. Northern Iowa’s entire offense is predicated off their guards being able to penetrate down low and kick the ball out. Throw them into a half-court set and they’re considerably less impressive. They still move the ball around the perimeter better than Maryland, and can execute a mean pick-and-roll with those guards, but they’re stoppable.
3.) Get great bench production
The Terrapins are going to need some solid production off their bench in order to win this game. Northern Iowa really only gives six or seven guys a lot of minutes, and they tire out towards the end of the game. If Maryland can sub out with regularity, they can have a well rested team down the stretch when it matters the most.
That’s going to require the starters, of course, to actually do their job so Turgeon doesn’t have to go to the bench too early. Dez Wells can’t get in foul trouble and Shaquille Cleare needs to follow up his 8 and 5 performance with another solid one. That will give Charles Mitchell and Evan Smotrycz time to really play aggressively in spurts and not have to sop up starter minutes.
Terps win 75-70.