The Purdue Boilermakers will take on the Maryland Terrapins in another big matchup in Purdue’s quest for another B1G Championship. Holding an early two game lead over the conference, the Boilers have started 7-1 with 5 of those first 8 games away from Mackey Arena. The Boilers will look to Zach Edey, the consensus mid-season player of the year in both the B1G and nationally, to establish an interior presence against a Maryland team that lacks overall height with only one player standing taller than 6’9.
The Maryland Terrapins enter the game at Mackey Arena holding a 3-4 record in the B1G and feature Jahmir Young who is averaging 15.8 points per game and 4.8 rebounds. Maryland’s losses have largely been to good teams with none of them ranking outside of the top 66 in Kenpom but have really struggled offensively over their last couple of games.
Let’s get into the important matchups for the Boilers against the Terrapins.
1 | Zach Edey vs. Maryland’s Interior Players
This again is another matchup where there isn’t a player that Zach Edey will be matched up against anyone he isn’t a head taller than. Only freshman Caelum Swanton-Rodger stands taller than 6’9 and he averages only 4.2 minutes per game. So what does Maryland do to try and contain Edey? They will likely switch up their defensive looks and may try to use a zone defense in the same way they used one against Michigan and Hunter Dickinson.
This would be the first time this season a team tries to play a zone which may lead to the perimeter players getting lots of clean looks from behind the arc. Against Michigan, Maryland frequently gave up open looks but were able to slow the game down and limit the Wolverines to just 58 points. The Boilers offense will naturally allow movement between zones and overload a side that will give open looks off ball reversals and give Edey good opportunities down low or with offensive rebounds.
Likely the first player charged with guarding Edey will be 6’9 sophomore Julian Reese so look for Purdue to immediately try to isolate him on the interior to get Edey at the rim. On the defensive end, Purdue won’t be put into bad situations as Reese has yet to even attempt a shot from behind the arc while only one starter shoots above 29% from behind the arc.
2 | Jahmir Young vs. Braden Smith
Maryland has a very good guard in Jahmir Young who is averaging 15.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and at 6’2 he is the only player height wise that Smith matches up with. The best guess is that Smith will be tabbed with defending Young early in the game with Morton likely tabbed to defend 6’6 guard Hakim Hart. Smith has shown a great ability throughout this season to defend at a high level and create problems for opposing guards and offenses to be smooth in their attempt to initiate offense but he will need to be careful as Young likes to drive the ball into the lane and look to get his own shot or pass out to cutters/shooters.
On the offensive end, Young plays the top in their 2-3 zone but seems to struggle in his defense of the high ball screen defense so that may be something Purdue looks to attack at some point. Smith does a great job in controlling the tempo of the game for Purdue and looking to get into the interior of the defense to draw defenders so Loyer, Gillis, Morton, and Newman can hit open 3’s will help pull Maryland out of that zone to get Edey more one-on-one opportunities.
3 | Purdue’s 3pt Shooting vs. Maryland’s 2-3 Zone
Maryland is going to use a 2-3 zone to help protect their interior players against Edey and TKR ability to post up along with Loyer and Smith’s ability to drive into the lane. If they are going to do that then Purdue needs to once again hit that 35% from behind the arc magic number that I have brought up before. At 35% or better, Purdue is able to generate enough of an outside threat to render the double teams useless and pull them out to the perimeter to give Edey more man looks inside.
Purdue is currently shooting 37% from three point range in conference play which, if that continues, allows them to punish teams for doubling Edey. Overall, though, the Boilers are shooting just 33% on the season from behind the arc but that includes the rough stretch in December in the non-conference where they had three incredibly rough games. If you use Purdue’s 37% from just the conference season though, they would be a top 40 team shooting from behind the arc.
Maryland does do a good job defending the perimeter allowing opponents to shoot just 30.3% which ranks them 49th overall in the country. They do switch up their defenses frequently but Purdue will look to get Gillis and Morton into the middle of the zone to isolate Edey in the low post or force the zone to contract to get Smith, Loyer, Newman, and Furst open shots on the perimeter.
Purdue, simply put, is the better team here and the game is at Mackey Arena. If Purdue doesn’t turn the ball over, controls the tempo, and is able to get to that 35% rate from behind the arc, they will win. It would be nice to see the B1G refs actually do their job and call fouls so that the game resembles more along the lines of basketball and not a rugby match.
Edey restarts his double-double streak and he may get there on the offensive glass alone while Smith and Loyer shoot Purdue to a victory. Let’s see Newman and Jenkins hit a couple more threes to get going as the Boilers head into the later portion of the conference season.