Maryland men’s basketball vs. Wisconsin preview

Jan 2, 2016; Evanston, IL, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Rasheed Sulaimon (0) looks to go around Northwestern Wildcats forward Gavin Skelly (44) during the first half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2016; Evanston, IL, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Rasheed Sulaimon (0) looks to go around Northwestern Wildcats forward Gavin Skelly (44) during the first half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Maryland men’s basketball team dismantled an undermanned Rutgers squad in an 88-63 win on Wednesday evening to move the Terrapins to 3-0 in Big Ten play

The Terrapins did nearly all of their damage without the service of guard Melo Trimble. Trimble exited Wednesday’s game with a tight hamstring after originally trying to return from the injury.

After the game, coach Mark Turgeon reiterated that Trimble was going to be fine and was held out as a precautionary measure.

In his absence, Maryland’s four other starters all finished with at least 12 points. Forward Jake Layman was by far the most impressive as he scored a game-high 18 points and impacted the game in nearly every facet.

Guard Rasheed Sulaimon continued his reign of terror against Rutgers. After a dud against Penn State, Sulaimon has scored 31 points and dished out eight assists over the last two games.

Sulaimon has really been looking for his shot, especially early in the game. That trait has helped the Terps to jump out to an early leads against the likes of Northwestern and Rutgers.

Maryland has looked nearly flawless over the past two games, but the schedule certainly gets more difficult with Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State awaiting.

Getting To Know Wisconsin

  • The 2015-16 version of Wisconsin is much different than last year’s squad that went to the national title game. Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that coach Bo Ryan has retired and longtime assistant Greg Gard has taken over. If that weren’t bad enough, the Badgers lost Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser, and Traevon Jackson. This year’s team has certainly struggled out of the gate as the Badgers own a 9-7 record, which includes losses to Purdue and most recently Indiana in Big Ten play.
  • While the offense had run through Dekker and Kaminsky in recent years, Wisconsin still has another guy that can do it all. Forward Nigel Hayes is the straw that stirs the drink for the Badgers. Hayes averages 15.7 points-per-game to go along with 6.7 rebounds-per-game and 4.0 assists-per-game. The junior forward is able to score from the perimeter while also possessing the ability to be effective in the low post. Hayes is just an overall smart basketball player that knows when he can get his shot and when he needs to dish it off. He’s also a solid jump shooter, despite just shooting 29.4 percent from beyond the arc.
  • The Badgers also have a very competent point guard and ball-handler in Bronson Koenig. Entering the season, Wisconsin didn’t have to worry about Koenig because he did an admirable job filling in for Jackson when Jackson missed an extended period of time with a fractured foot. During that time, Koenig showed supreme confidence in running the Wisconsin offense. He’s a very composed ball-handler that isn’t afraid to wait in order to make the right pass. He’s averaging 2.5 assists-per-game and has had three or more helpers in nine games this season. Of course, it’s a little bit more difficult to make a play with the supporting cast struggling in the fashion that the Badgers are. Koenig is also a solid shooter from the perimeter. He shot 40.5 percent from beyond the arc a season ago and is shooting at a 37 percent clip so far this season.

“Trust in the offense,” said Sulaimon. “Don’t do anything differently then what we’ve been doing all year. That’s what crowds want you to do. They want to get you out of your comfort zone and they want you to make it a personal vendetta where you go 1-on-5.” -Rasheed Sulaimon on Diamond Stone’s homecoming

Three Keys for Maryland

  • Win battle on the offensive glass – While Wisconsin has definitely struggled this season, one of their biggest strengths has been offensive rebounding. The Badgers are averaging 13.4 offensive boards per contest, which ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten. On the contrary, Maryland is sixth in the conference in defensive rebound with 26.4 per game. The Terps certainly have the dominant bigs to win this matchup, but they will need to take care of business. Turgeon spoke about the improved play of forward Michal Cekovsky against the Scarlet Knights, and he’ll need center Damonte Dodd and Cekovsky to help out on the defensive glass. Getting those defensive rebounds allows Maryland to get out in transition, and the Terps really excel on the fast break.
  • Melo Trimble – Trimble prematurely exited Wednesday’s game against Wisconsin with a tight hamstring. Now Turgeon said that his sophomore point guard was fine, but it’s unclear if he’ll play on Saturday. Maryland certainly is thinking about the big picture, and they have to make sure that Trimble is at 100 percent. Trimble may be Maryland’s biggest piece in March, so this situation that needs to be taken seriously. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Trimble saw limited minutes against the Badgers, assuming he plays at all.
  • Homecoming for Diamond Stone – Center Diamond Stone was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country in the 2015 class. When Stone elected to come to College Park, he spurned his hometown team in Wisconsin. Badgers fans aren’t exactly going to give Stone a warm welcome when he comes to Madison on Saturday, However, the good news is that Stone is playing his best basketball of the season. The former five-star recruit drew his first start in eight games against Rutgers, and all he did was score 15 points and grab 10 rebounds. Much like the Scarlet Knights, the Badgers are undersized with their largest big being forward Ethan Happ at 6’9. Stone just has to play his game, and he should be very effective in a hostile atmosphere.

Next: Jared Nickens has a career game