What to Expect: Indiana vs. Maryland
Indiana begins Big Ten play tonight at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers will host Maryland at 7 p.m. ET on BTN:
Indiana is 5-1 and each of its games has gone as expected in terms of the final result. But the path to five wins for the Hoosiers has been anything but smooth.
Indiana struggled in its first three home games, needed a major second-half run to beat Louisville and trailed Harvard at halftime before pulling away down the stretch. The schedule now stiffens up with the start of Big Ten play and two tough non-conference opponents.
Up first is a meeting with Maryland. The Terps were picked to finish third in the league but started 1-3 with losses to Davidson, UAB and Villanova. Maryland has won three straight contests – UMBC, South Alabama and Rider – entering Friday’s game.
MEET THE TERRAPINS
Maryland’s roster is a blend of talented veterans and promising newcomers. The Terps return the trio of Jahmir Young, Julian Reese and Donta Scott and added DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jamie Kaiser Jr. from the prep ranks. Maryland also brought back guard Jahari Long and landed IU transfer Jordan Geronimo from the portal.
The 6-foot-1 Young is one of the top point guards in the Big Ten and is averaging 15.9 points, 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and two steals in 32.1 minutes per game. Young is getting to the foul line for 4.7 attempts per game and is converting at an 87.9 percent clip. He’s also making a team-best two 3-pointers per game. Turnovers have been an issue thus far – Young is averaging more than three per game – and he’s also shooting just 42.5 percent on 2s.
Reese, a 6-foot-9 junior, was named to the 10-player preseason All-Big Ten team. In seven games, he’s second on the Terps with 15 points per game and he leads the team in rebounding with 9.9 per game. He’s shooting 56.7 percent from the field, is averaging 2.6 blocks and also has seven steals in seven games. Reese is giving up three inches to Kel’el Ware, but that matchup will be fun to watch.
Scott is a 6-foot-8 fifth-year senior who can score from all over the floor. He’s 10-for-29 on 3s and averages 10.3 points in 26.9 minutes per game. Scott is making 55.2 percent of his 2s thus season, up from 44.2 percent last season.
Geronimo is a name familiar to Indiana fans. An Archie Miller recruit, Geronimo played three seasons for the Hoosiers before entering the transfer portal. Talent was never a question, but consistency was. He’s started five of the first seven games for Kevin Willard and is averaging 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and just over one steal per game. Geronimo is just 1-for-7 on 3s.
The 6-foot-5 Harris-Smith was expected to be one of the Big Ten’s top freshmen, but has had a rough start from the perimeter. He’s just 1-for-19 on 3s. Those struggles have also carried over to the free throw line where he’s just 15-for-31 (48.4 percent). Harris-Smith’s eight points per game are fourth on the team.
Kaiser Jr., who was a major IU recruiting target, has also struggled from the perimeter. The 6-foot-6 wing is 5-for-26 on 3s. He’s only taken 10 2-point field goal attempts in seven games. Sophomore Noah Batchelor is also playing about 11 minutes off the bench, but is just 5-for-18 on 3s.
Long came with Willard from Seton Hall prior to last season and is the primary guard backup for the Terps. He’s averaging 4.3 points, but is just 2-for-15 on 3s.
All stats via KenPom.com and are updated through Wednesday’s games.
The Terps have been a worse 3-point shooting team than Indiana through their first seven games. Maryland is attempting 22.8 3s per game, but is connecting at a 23.8 percent rate. Indiana is shooting 24.1 percent on 3s. Maryland has taken nine more 3s per game than its opponents on average through seven games.
Both teams have been elite at getting to the free throw line. The Hoosiers rank fourth nationally in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) at 52.6 percent with Maryland at 46.6 percent, good for 19th nationally.
The Terps are forcing turnovers on 22.8 percent of their opponents possessions and are also an elite offensive rebounding team. Maryland is pulling down 34.9 percent of its missed shots, which ranks 58th in the country.
WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO
The KenPom projection is Indiana by two with a 55 percent chance of a Hoosier victory.
Maryland won one Big Ten road game last season (Minnesota) and is 0-3 this season away from the Xfinity Center. Despite the sluggish start, Maryland still has the pieces to be a tough out in the Big Ten. The 3-point shooting percentage has been troubling, but is unlikely to remain in the bottom 15 nationally.
Indiana’s outlook is tough to peg at this point. There’s uncertainty with Xavier Johnson’s injury situation, which looms large against a guard with the talent of Young. If Johnson can’t go or isn’t healthy enough to keep up with Young, the Hoosiers will have a hard time slowing him down. Johnson’s absence would also be a blow in trying to handle Maryland’s ball pressure and press.
The keys for Indiana are defensive rebounding, handling Maryland’s pressure and taking care of the ball, keeping the Terps out of rhythm from the perimeter and using the duo of Ware and Malik Reneau in the post to get the Maryland bigs in foul trouble. Given the upcoming schedule – at Michigan, Auburn in Atlanta and Kansas in Bloomington, this is a pivotal game for Indiana to take care of business.
Filed to: Maryland Terrapins