The Teams: #13 Maryland Terrapins (17-2, 5-1 Big Ten) and #23 Indiana Hoosiers (14-4, 5-1 Big Ten)
The Time: 9:00 PM ET
The Location: Assembly Hall, Indiana
TV/Radio: ESPNU/WatchESPN, 105.7 (FM)
The Coaches: Mark Turgeon and Tom Crean
The Maryland Terrapins, winners of 10 of their last 11 basketball games, are playing genuinely solid basketball right now. Their last matchup, a 75-59 grilling in College Park of the Michigan State Spartans, may have offered the most proof yet that this team is serious in ambition.
In that game, the Terrapins put together a 40 point first half on the back of freshman phenom Melo Trimble, who finished with 21 points in the half including five three-pointers. Maryland led by as many as 20 points during certain times in the game, and the contest simply wasn’t close thanks to Trimble’s heroics in the first.
Jake Layman, meanwhile, has turned into a menace on the boards for the Terps, averaging a career high 7 rebounds on the season, and a double-double over his past three games. Layman has shot an astounding 30 free throw attempts during that stretch as well, proving that he is evolving as a player and ready to take Maryland to the next level.
They’ll need all that when newly ranked Indiana steps onto the court with them tonight, as the Hoosiers are playing some good ball in their own right. Indiana took down the same Illinois team that beat Maryland in their lone loss over the last 11 games 80-74 on the road.
The Hoosiers shot 44% from deep and hit 11 three-point attempts, while also getting 21 points out of their freshman McDonald’s All-American guard James Blackmon Jr. Blackmon hit four from deep that game and grabbed seven rebounds for yet another complete game from the kid averaging around the same as Trimble.
Indiana has now won four of their last five games and seven of their last nine (the other loss coming against Georgetown in an overtime thriller) overall. What happens when two ranked, hot teams meet? Let’s guesstimate.
Key matchup for the night: Melo Trimble vs James Blackmon Jr.
What is this, Kentucky vs North Carolina? It’s not often that Maryland has the opportunity to compare their own McDonald’s All-American freshman against another team’s, because Maryland hasn’t had one in over a decade. Well, now they have Melo Trimble and his fantastic shot going up against arguably the best shooter in the country in James Blackmon Jr. And it’s going to be a great competition to watch.
Both these guys know each other well. They have played at many of the same tournaments, been to similar events, and competed with one another for quite awhile. If you don’t think that this matchup has been on both of their minds for quite some time, you’re kidding yourself. These two are competitors in the highest sense, and they will both come ready to deliver some big play (be it in the numbers or with the intangibles).
Blackmon probably has a slight size advantage over Melo, but then they play slightly different positions. Trimble is the point guard for Maryland, whereas Yogi Ferrell is the lead guard for the Hoosiers. Blackmon may not find himself matched up as he’s a shooting guard, but there will still be plenty of times these two will face off against one another.
Trimble is probably a slightly worse shooter than Blackmon is (from a pure sense), but he can score in a variety of ways. Trimble excels at getting to the basket and drawing contact better than most freshmen in the country, and he gets a lot of his points from the free throw line. Blackmon, on the other hand, is so dangerous from the outside that he will ruin your day should you leave him open for too long.
Which one of these strategies is most effective tonight should decide this game.
Maryland will win if…
They guard the perimeter and outrebound Indiana to death. The Hoosiers need that outside shot to fall if they want to be successful, and they have done a great job of putting out a lot of guards to pull in loose balls for second chance opportunities. North Carolina employs a similar strategy when they don’t have a big man, though Crean’s style is slightly different.
If Maryland can scoop up loose balls and avoid giving Indiana second chances to score from deep (they average 8.7 made three-pointers per game), they should be able to win this game. That also requires not taking risks defensively and giving up open looks in the paint. The Terrapins are longer than the Hoosiers and play smarter defensively. That should allow them to pick up a W if they frustrate Indiana’s shooters with a strong defensive performance.
Indiana will win if…
They stay out of foul trouble and knock down their shots. The Hoosiers need their top five guys on the court to stay on the court if they want to beat Maryland. Yogi Ferrell and Blackmon Jr. have to play a lot of minutes to beat a deeper Maryland team. Should either of them get into trouble when Wells, Layman, or Trimble starts barreling to the basket, it’ll spell trouble for Indiana right away.
If they stay on the floor and are allowed to continue hoisting jumpers, then the Terrapins might have trouble guarding them for long stretches.
Terps take this one, but it’s very close. 76-73 Maryland