The Maryland basketball team opens Big Ten Tournament play on Friday evening.
Awaiting the Terrapins is No. 6 seed Northwestern, who beat No. 14 Rutgers to get to the quarterfinals. Maryland earned the double-bye after finishing third in the conference in the regular season.
The Terps won the only regular season meeting between the two teams. Behind a career-high 32 points from Melo Trimble, Maryland topped Northwestern 74-64 on the road.
This is a very interesting matchup since both teams are already viewed as locks for the NCAA Tournament. However, both have the potential to bolster their respective resumes with a good showing this weekend in Washington D.C.
Maryland has gotten a chance to rest after struggling down the stretch at times. The Terps did win their final two games to end the regular season on a high note.
- Defend the perimeter – Maryland really did a fantastic job in this department in the first meeting. The Terps held Bryant McIntosh and Vic Law to a combined 7-of-25 (28 percent) shooting. The duo also only connected on one three-point attempt in 11 tries. In that game, Scottie Lindsey wasn’t able to play, so it’s going to be a much steeper task this time around. Lindsey can do a little of everything for the Wildcats. He’s a decent shooter from the perimeter, so the likes of Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter could draw the assignment of defending Lindsey.
- Win the backcourt battle – This has been Maryland’s biggest strength all season. Trimble was very deserving on his All-Big Ten First Team selection and he’s carried this team on his back times. Trimble’s life has been a lot easier due to the emergence of Cowan running point. Cowan being the primary ball-handler has allowed Trimble to play off the ball and be more of a scoring threat. That’s something that Maryland hasn’t had in recent years. Sharpshooter Kevin Huerter has also been a huge contributor this year. He’s shooting 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and can break out at any time. If Maryland’s backcourt can outplay Northwestern’s, the Terps definitely have a strong chance to move on.
- Rebound, rebound, rebound – The frontcourt has been the biggest concern, especially since Michal Cekovsky was lost for the reason last month. Center Damonte Dodd can contribute on both ends of the floor, but Maryland is going to need him on the glass. Staying out of foul trouble has often been the name of the game for Dodd. Ivan Bender and Justin Jackson are also going to need to be factors on the interior. Jackson did lead the team in rebounding (6.2) this season and has proved to be very aggressive when he needs to be. If the Terps can win the battle on the glass, it’ll be a huge factor in Maryland potentially coming away with a huge win.