We are so close to the greatest matchup ever between 0-14 Rutgers and 0-14 Minnesota. Before then, Minnesota has to play Maryland. The Terps are 22-3 on the season and 10-3 in conference play. Today, they will play without their star freshman Diamond Stone.
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Maryland is one of two Big Ten teams that Pitino has yet to get a win against. The Terrapins are talented and balanced, though perhaps less so without Stone, their second leading scorer.
The Terrapins are the best defensive team by effective field goal percentage in the Big Ten. They give up just .96 points per possession, and hold opponents to a 43% efG. Minnesota happens to be horrific on offense, so this does not bode well. With that said, Maryland loses a lot of rim protection with Stone's suspension, so the Gophers may have more opportunities to drive than previously suspected.
On offense, Maryland is a great two point shooting team and a mediocre three point shooting team. The Terrapins average 1.06 points per possession in conference, and do so through a motion offense that grants a lot of freedom to players. Melo Trimble is an excellent point guard, and can create lots of offense on his own. A positive consequence of that motion offense is that Maryland gets to the free throw line at a high rate. A negative consequence is that Maryland turns the ball over on 18% of their possessions, second to last in the Big Ten.
Keys to the Game
- Take Smart Shots. Maryland's defense is excellent, and has slowed down far more talented teams than the Gophers. For Minnesota to have a shot in this game, they must look to create good shots. What is a good shot? It may be better to say what it isn't. A good shot is not an off balanced runner in the lane.
- Force Turnovers. Maryland likes to turn the ball over, and the only way for Minnesota to win this game is to make use of their extra possessions. The Gophers lead the Big Ten in steal percentage, so this may be one of the few areas that Minnesota has an advantage.
- Get lucky. Minnesota has already gotten some luck in the suspension of Diamond Stone. The Gophers have been good enough this year to play good teams tough, and the freshmen have been gaining confidence every week. A similar performance like the Indiana second half coupled with Melo Trimble picking up quick fouls could pull an upset.
- Minnesota loses by 8. Final Score Prediction: 70-62.
- The Gophers have an effective FG% under 50%.
- Jordan Murphy stays on the floor for almost the entire first half.