IOWA HAWKEYES vs.
|TIME||6:00 pm CT|
|WHERE||Xfinity Center, College Park|
TALE OF THE TAPE
|122.7 (1st)||OFF. EFF.||113.3 (13th)|
|97.6 (97th)||DEF. EFF.||96.9 (87th)|
|55.6 (27th)||eFG%||54.6 (37th)|
Iowa goes to Maryland Thursday night, for a prime-time ESPN2 tipoff. Take the over. Trust me on this one.
The Terps are in a rebuild this year, having lost two key parts from last year's squad: First-team all-B1G guard Anthony Cowan, and NBA lottery pick Jalen Smith. As a result, Maryland has been a bit inconsistent this season. The Terps are 1-5 against teams ranked in the Kenpom Top 100, but (a) all of those games were against teams in the top 36, and (b) the one win was a six-point victory at Wisconsin. In other words, they're not always good, but they can occasionally be great.
The Kenpom profile is a team that does just about everything well on offense: Maryland ranks in the national top 75 in effective field goal rate, turnover rate, three-point shooting (36.6%), two-point shooting (54.5%), and steals allowed. They don't get offensive boards at a particularly high rate, and they're not a great free throw-shooting squad (68%), but otherwise Mark Turgeon's guys are adequate-to-good at just about everything.
The Terps are the opposite on defense: They play clean defense -- opponents are getting just one free throw per four shot attempts -- but they don't cause turnovers, give up too much behind the arc, and allow opponents to shoot at a 50% effective rate. Where they differ is in tempo: Only Virginia makes opponents drag out possessions longer than Maryland's 19-second average defensive possession length. That means there are very few fast break points (again, no steals or turnovers, and no offensive rebounding) and few cheap points at the charity stripe. You've got to work against the Terps, but you can score if you do.
There are still some familiar faces at Maryland. Eric Ayala (6'5", 200) provides the Terps with size and stability at the point, leading the team in minutes (32.1), scoring (14.3 ppg), and free-throw percentage (86%). He also chips in 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and a steal per contest. What Ayala does not add is a consistent perimeter jump shot: He's making just 33% of three-point attempts. The perimeter shooting falls to sophomore forward Donta Scott (6'7", 230), who is scoring 12.9 points per game with a team-high 7.3 rebounds on 58% (!!!) from three. Junior wing Aaron Wiggins (6'6", 200, 11.5/5.2/3.1) is the team's third double-digit scorer, though he too struggles from deep (31% 3pt.) Senior guard Darryl Morsell (6'5", 200, 7.7/4.8/2.3) returns from injury to pair with Ayala in the backcourt, with Hakim Hart (6'6", 205, 9.2/2.7/1.1) taking a significant share of the minutes, as well.
You notice I didn't mention a center. That's because Maryland doesn't really have one. Junior Jarius Hamilton (6'8", 235, 8.4/3.1) and senior Galin Smith (6'9", 235, 4.7/2.6) are ostensibly the posts, but neither does much on either side of the ball beyond Hamilton's three-point shooting (40%) and Smith's fouling (6.1 fouls per 40 minutes). The Terps have 7'2" sophomore Chol Marial (1.8/1.4), but he's not even getting ten minutes a game against major-conference competition and has scored a total of five points in the last month of basketball. Garza might have a career night against this bunch.
This looks a lot like the old Thad Matta Ohio State teams, a handful of super-athletic guys between 6'5" and 6'9" who can play multiple positions, shoot it a bit and get to the rim. Teams like that can pose a problem for Iowa, especially when they come with a big guard like Ayala against Iowa's relatively-undersized backcourt. But Maryland really has no answer for the likely National Player of the Year, and that's a really bad spot to be in, big guards or no.