What to expect: Maryland
Indiana will look to snap a five-game losing streak when it hosts Maryland on Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Terrapins are 13-14 overall and 5-11 in Big Ten play.
Thursday’s game will tip at 7 p.m. ET on FS1:
Indiana’s last win back on Jan. 29 came against its next opponent, Maryland. The Hoosiers beat Maryland 68-55 at the Xfinity Center, which was the program’s fourth win in five games. It looked like IU was well on its way to an NCAA tournament appearance.
Now Indiana must beat Maryland to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive. The Hoosiers are the “first team out” in the latest bracketology from Andy Bottoms. To finish .500 in league play, Indiana needs to win three of its last four games. If that doesn’t happen, Indiana will have major work to do in the Big Ten tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
THE FIRST MEETING
Indiana’s second road win of the season was a dominant performance against a Maryland team that has lacked direction all season. Maryland and Mark Turgeon parted ways in early December and the Terps have gone 8-11 under interim coach Danny Manning.
The Hoosiers held the Terps to just .80 points per possession at the Xfinity Center. That mark remains a season-low for Maryland in conference play.
Xavier Johnson’s defense on Fatts Russell was a key in Indiana’s strong defensive performance. Johnson limited Russell to 3-of-12 shooting from the field and 12 points. Maryland shot just 34.5 percent on 2s and 22.2 percent on 3s.
Indiana also dominated inside as it outscored Maryland 36-20 in the paint and shot 50 percent on 2s. Indiana hasn’t shot better than 46.5 percent on 2s in a game since its performance in College Park. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson combined for 35 points in the first matchup.
Jordan Geronimo came off the bench and had one of his better performances with six points, eight rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in 18 minutes.
Trey Galloway, who missed Monday’s game at Ohio State, was also a key factor in the first meeting. Galloway played 25 minutes at the Xfinity Center and shot 4-of-5 from the field for eight points. He added two assists, two steals and a rebound.
Maryland has been capable offensively in recent weeks, but its defense is one of the worst in the conference. The Terps torched lifeless Nebraska for 90 points (1.27 PPP) on Feb. 18 in a road win and then followed that up with 1.1 PPP and 67 points in a home win against Penn State on Monday.
(Stats are now for conference games only. Numbers are through Saturday’s games.)
Maryland’s main strengths are its ability to get to the foul line and to also defend without fouling. The Terps are second in the conference in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) at 34.4 percent and also second in the league in opponent free throw rate at 23.8 percent. In conference play, Maryland has outscored its opponents by 61 points from the free-throw line.
Maryland’s deficiencies, however, are numerous. The Terps are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league and don’t have great rim protection.
Maryland is 10th in the Big Ten in 2-point field goal percentage and 12th in block percentage. While Trayce Jackson-Davis has struggled as of late to finish at the rim, he was 7-of-12 on 2s in the first meeting.
WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO
Maryland enters Thursday’s game with some confidence after taking Purdue to the wire in West Lafayette on Feb. 13 and then winning its next two games against Nebraska and Penn State. Indiana has dropped five straight but has been competitive despite repeatedly coming up short in close games.
One change for Maryland in recent weeks is a move to bring Eric Ayala off the bench. Ayala missed the Purdue game with a hand injury and has played a reserve role over the last two games. Against Nebraska, he scored just two points in 24 minutes and then had 13 points in 17 minutes against Penn State. Maryland has opted for a bigger lineup with Xavier Green, a transfer from Old Dominion, starting at the two the last two games with Hakim Hart at the three.
The KenPom projection is Indiana by six with a 72 percent chance for the Hoosiers to snap their five-game losing streak. The Sagarin numbers like Indiana by 5.5.
While Indiana is clearly still in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid, the margin for error is gone. The Big Ten tournament will be full of opportunities for Quad 1 wins. The clearest path to a tournament berth, however, is a strong finish to the regular season.
(Photo credit: IU Athletics)
Filed to: Maryland Terrapins