Can Maryland be the 5th team from the Big Ten to make the NCAA Tournament? They now have little margin for error. When we last saw the Terps we were technically unranked. They also had Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender. The result was a hard fought 5-point road win in a place where few teams win big. Since then we have been on a roll (that was our 3rd game of the current 17 game winning streak), rising all the way to No. 3. Jackson and Bender were also lost for the season with injuries, cutting into their depth. Also, Maryland has been generally bad to awful on the road in Big Ten play.
Now they need to try and save their season in one of the toughest environments in the country.
From: College Park, MD
Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Tip Time: 8:30 PM ET
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2016-17 Record: 24-9, 12-6 Big Ten (Lost to Xavier 76-65 in NCAA First Round)
2016-17 Record: 15-8, 0-0 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Testudo Times
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 3-2
Last Maryland Win: 72-61 at Maryland on 2/6/2016
Last Purdue Win: 80-75 at Maryland on 12/1/2017
NCAA Tournament History: 2002 National Champions, 27 appearances, including 3 straight.
Coach: Mark Turgeon (153-76 in 7th season at Maryland, 404-235 overall)
Maryland is hanging in there, but mostly because they lack a bad loss and have played relatively well at home. Their lone home losses were to us and Michigan State, but it was against Michigan State this weekend where they suffered a hard luck loss. Maryland led the Spartans by 13 at halftime, but could not hold on at home in a 74-68 loss. A win over Michigan State would have been huge for their NCAA hopes. Instead, they are 0-5 against the top 4 in the Big Ten with games left only against Purdue on the road and at home against Michigan. To reach the tournament they are probably going to have to get one of those games. They also can’t have another bad loss like at Indiana last Monday.
Unfortunately, depth is an issue without Jackson and Bender. While they only had five total points against Purdue back in early December, Jackson was averaging 9.8 points per game when he went down and Bender was a developing big that added important front court depth.
So who hurt Purdue the first time? Anthony Cowan had 20 points and he averages a team best 16.2 per game. Kevin Huerter had 19 and he is their only other player in double figures at 14.3 per game. Bruno Fernando, their 6’10” big man who averages 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds, also had 12 points.
Maryland needs those three to have a big game and then some. They need Fernando and Michal Cekovsky to be effective in defending Haas down low. In the first matchup they were… unsuccessful. Haas was 10 of 13 for 21 points and looked beautiful in front of the “You are ugly” chants. Dakota Mathias also had one of his best games of the season with 20 points. Still, Purdue nearly blew a 14-point lead.
This one is at Mackey though, and Maryland has not been good on the road. They are 1-5 in true road games this year, winning by a point at Illinois. They lost by 30 at Michigan State and 22 at Ohio State. They also lost by 3 at Indiana, 2 at Syracuse, and 1 at Michigan. The Michigan and Indiana losses will be haunting on Selection Sunday. They are just 2-5 in their last 7 games.
This looks like a game where Purdue should cruise. Maryland is struggling right now and Purdue has won 20 straight games in Mackey Arena. Maryland did win in West Lafayette three years ago, but that was a much different team. They are going to have to be on it and have Purdue have an off night. Given Purdue’s shooting struggles Sunday at Indiana they have some hope, but I continue to think Purdue will not lose in Mackey this season.