Dec 4, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Maryland Terrapins forward Evan Smotrycz (1) pushes past Ohio State Buckeyes center Trey McDonald (55) at the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State won the game 76-60. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (5-3) vs George Washington (7-1)
The Time: 3:30 PM
The Location: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV/Radio: MASN, 980 AM
The Coaches: Mark Turgeon (47-31, third season at Maryland) and Mike Lonegan (250-72, seventh season at Ohio State)
The Backstory: Maryland is participating in the BB&T Classic for possibly the last time and they face an extremely talented George Washington squad. The Colonials have played a solid schedule thus far and have upset Creighton along with knocking off Miami and Rutgers. They are an incredibly gifted team, especially on the offensive end.
George Washington is led by a pair of key transfers in former Indiana guard Maurice Creek and former Villanova forward Isaiah Armwood. Creek leads the Colonials in scoring as he averages 15.3 points-per-game and 2.9 rebounds-per-game. The former Hoosier can get to the rim at will and is a very talented guard. On the other hand, Armwood is the guy that may cause the most problems for the Terrapins. The former Wildcat is a very athletic big man, who can finish at the rim with authority. Armwood can throw the ball down on a dunk and can also finish strong in the lane. For a big man, he is a very good shooter and can drain a few threes if opposing teams are not careful.
Maryland is coming off a bad loss against a very good Ohio State team. The Buckeyes dominated play from the very beginning and the Terps never could get a lead. The only Terp that had an impact in this game was guard Dez Wells. Wells was able to attack the basket in the second half and ended up with 19 points in the loss. Forward Jake Layman was dreadful shooting the basketball (1-of-9) and just seemed flustered from the get-go.
Keys to the game/Storylines:
1.) Get off to a strong start: As was mentioned above, Maryland played out of control from the beginning against the Buckeyes and it ended up dooming them in the end. The Colonials are a very good team out of the Atlantic 10 and can capitalize on the Terps early mistakes. Look for guys like Creek and Armwood to be very aggressive early on for George Washington.
2.) Winning the turnover battle: Maryland committed 14 turnovers on Wednesday night, including 10 in the opening half. The Terps had cut Ohio State’s lead to seven before several turnovers allowed the Buckeyes to jump out to a big lead, one which they would never relinquish. Turnovers have been a common theme throughout a large majority of coach Mark Turgeon’s tenure in College Park. Freshman guard Roddy Peters was the biggest culprit as he turned over the basketball five times. Ohio State scored 25 points off Maryland turnovers.
3.) Defend the paint: Interior defense was thought to be an issue heading into the season and nothing has changed through eight games to change that viewpoint. Maryland surrendered 34 points in the paint on Wednesday and allowed the Buckeyes to establish inside presence and drive to the basket. The Colonials have a few talented big men, including Armwood and 6’10 forward Kevin Larsen (10.0 points-per-game and 5.6 rebounds-per-game). George Washington will attack the Terps frontcourt and could have success if Maryland doesn’t play sound defense.
Prediction: This is a much tougher game than people may realize for Maryland. However, with a decent home field advantage, I believe the Terps will come out on top, but it will not be easy. They may trail at times and will be in for a close battle. Maryland survives and wins this one 72-68 at the BB&T Classic.