The Maryland basketball team needs a rebound effort in every sense of the phrase.
With Illinois on the docket, the Terrapins are searching for an uplifting win.
Maryland is coming off a deflating loss against Purdue in a game where the Terps were outrebounded 41-22. It was the first time that the Terps were outrebounded since their loss against Wisconsin on Feb. 13.
Maryland did show some tremendous perseverance as they fought back from double-digit deficits on multiple occasions. The Terps used a late 7-0 run to come back and tie the game late, but it wasn’t enough to come out on the winning side of the decision.
Guard Melo Trimble continued to be aggressive despite his recent struggles.
Trimble scored 19 points (4-of-12) and dished out five assists for the Terps. The sophomore guard did only connect on two of his seven attempts from beyond the arc, but looked fluid despite his shot not going down.
He was able to get to the free throw line with regularity, which is obviously a huge part of his game. If Trimble is making his way to the rim at an extremely high rate, Maryland is an incredibly dangerous team.
Thursday’s game is a big one because the Terps can clinch a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament with a victory over the Fighting Illini.
Getting to know Illinois
- Illinois definitely hasn’t set the world on fire during the 2015-16 season. Coming off a year in which they reached the NIT, the Illini have been the definition of inconsistent. This is a team that lost games to the likes of Chattanooga, North Florida, Notre Dame, and Providence during nonconference play. Obviously, there’s no shame in losing to teams like the Fighting Irish and the Friars, but dropping decisions to mid-major schools isn’t something that Big Ten teams should get into the habit of. Illinois has only won five games in conference play and none of those came in a consecutive manner. The Illini are coming off a win against Minnesota, but dropped decisions to Indiana and Wisconsin before that.
- The Illini are led by junior guard Malcolm Hill and he certainly paces the team. Hill has the ability to score in bunches as he averages 18.2 points-per-game to go along with his 6.6 rebounds-per-game and 3.4 assists-per-game. This is a player that is capable of scoring in a multitude of different ways. Hill has the ability to finish at the rim due to his great size at 6’6. Hill is also a very gifted passer. The Illinois native has a knack for penetrating into the lane and dishing the basketball back out to an open teammate.
- Fellow guard Jalen Coleman-Lands is a high-volume shooter that will hoist up a shot from just about anywhere on the court. During the last two games, Coleman-Lands has scored 18 and 21 points respectively and is shooting 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from beyond the arc. He isn’t going to hesitate to take a shot from the perimeter and doesn’t need much room to make it stick. After all, Coleman-Lands has splashed home five three-pointers apiece in Illinois’ last two games.
Keys to victory for Maryland
- Impose will in the frontcourt – Illinois only possesses two real bigs in their frontcourt, so the advantage should be clearly with Maryland. Michael Finke and Maverick Morgan are the only two that get regular playing time and each contribute over seven points per game. However, the Terps have an insane amount of talent on the front line. This is the type of game that guys like Carter and Stone can bounce back with. Look for coach Mark Turgeon to have his guards feed the ball inside quite a bit in the early going.
- Rebound – After Saturday’s loss to Purdue, this one is self explanatory. Being outrebounded by 19 when you have the type of talent that Maryland does, just shouldn’t happen. The Boilermakers are one of the best rebounding teams in the Big Ten, but the margin shouldn’t have been anywhere close to that. The Terps will need to be more aggressive, especially on the offensive glass. If Maryland wants to make a deep run at a national title, they are going to need to improve in the offensive rebounding department.
- Backcourt scoring – This isn’t something that many thought would need to be said at the beginning of the season. However, with the struggles of Trimble, it’s going to be essential. Maryland needs to get more production from Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon. Sulaimon has arguably been the team’s best player all year, but he’s only scored 17 points in the last two games. If this supreme duo can play within themselves and excel from the perimeter, the Terps could be a very dangerous team that no one wants to play in the NCAA Tournament. These final two regular season games are going to be a great barometer.