Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
1.) Ian Chiles is going to be a problem down low.
Chiles, Morgan State’s 7’2 redshirt senior big man, is having an incredibly good season thus far. He’s averaging about 14 points and 5 rebounds per game this season, and is coming off a career performance against Marist in the Paradise Jam. Marist felt the wrath of a seven-footer when Chiles went off for 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 7 blocks en route to a 74-67 victory. He’s scored in double-figures in all but one contest this season, and has racked up 20 blocks on the year already.
I wouldn’t consider him a scoring threat, as Marist even let Shaquille Cleare beat them up in the post, but you have to be concerned with how well he’s playing and how much of an impact he has on the defensive end. Maryland has had a problem with long, athletic bigs all year, and Chiles is no different. The Terps are going to have to come face-to-face with one of their bigger vices: proper box outs. Cleare is going to have to stay out of foul trouble, for one, and Charles Mitchell is going to have to really be careful with his post moves as he’s at a massive size disadvantage. If Maryland can’t get this guy into foul trouble or hit their perimeter shots, they won’t get much paint production and could get in trouble.
2.) Morgan State may well shoot themselves out of the game
Morgan State is a team that tends to, regardless of the opponent, live and die by the three-pointer. The problem is, they really shouldn’t be taking any, given that they hit them at an astoundingly bad 25% rate. Their leading scorer, Justin Black (a local Dematha product), is the biggest culprit. Unfortunately, he hits them at a very low 29% rate. If Maryland stops him, this team doesn’t have enough depth or any other competent shooters to make up for that production.
Nonetheless, when you’re an underdog you go in with an aggressive strategy. Expect Morgan State to start chucking threes in the first half, and while they may hit a few, it’ll average out and result in them going on massive cold streaks. That’s where the Terps should end up running away with the game, provided they show up.
3.) There won’t be a hangover from Paradise Jam, even if the crowd doesn’t show up and turkey has the team in a food coma.
If, after winning the Paradise Jam, the Terrapins can’t come out with some major fire and show that they are prepared for an Ohio State team that will give them every bit of a challenge, then we have a problem. We’ve come to expect Maryland to play half a game and slack off the rest, but it’s time they excised those demons and put together a full performance. The Terps don’t have a whole lot more time to rectify their problems before conference play, which is really all that matters, so they need to start showing major progress now.
Coach Turgeon seems to want to bring these guys along very quickly (whether they’re ready for it or not), and that means thumping the bad teams to build some momentum for the good teams. Morgan State has nowhere near the depth Maryland has, the talent Maryland has, or the aspirations the Terps have. Maryland needs to send a message here.
Prediction: Terps 71-50