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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Maryland

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Gophers looking for revenge on the road, and their sixth straight win

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Three and a half weeks ago the Gophers were trying to stem a four-game losing streak with a tall order against the then-No. 22 Maryland Terrapins. And while the Gophers put up a nice offensive effort of their own, they were victimized by uncharacteristic lackadaisical defense and some spectacular shooting from the Terps.

In fact, it was more than spectacular, it was borderline unreal. Maryland shot 11-18 from deep for the game, racked up 59 (!) points in the second half and shot 30 of 59 from the field for the game. Freshman forward Justin Jackson had his best game of the season by far, scoring 28 points on 9-15 shooting and going 5-5 from deep, while freshman guard Kevin Huerter scored 19 points on 7-10 shooting and 5-7 from deep.

Shooting prowess aside, the Terrapins torched the Gophers on a sneaky pick and roll that was more like a magic trick Minnesota couldn’t figure out. It was a frustrating loss to say the least, mostly because the game was entirely winnable the entire time until the final minute when “the dumbness” took over. In fact, the game was tied with as little as 1:47 left.

Since then the Terps have been hit and miss, with wins over Ohio State x2 and Northwestern, while dropping contests to Purdue, Penn State and Wisconsin.

They’re still as beatable as ever.

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Maryland Terrapins (22-5, 10-4)

What time are they playing?

7:30 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

XFINITY Center

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes, BTN

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes. ESPN 1500.

Tell me more about the opponent.

I’m still on the Maryland-is-a-paper-tiger train, even though they took down Minnesota in their last meeting. It took miraculous games from two freshman to pull off the victory, neither of which has sniffed such games since.

In Maryland’s favor, Melo Trimble is playing all-world basketball right now, with 32- and 29-point games to his credit in his last two. However, even with Trimble scoring 27 against Wisconsin, the Terps couldn’t manage more than 60 points in the loss.

Metric-wise Maryland has a every efficient offense, though they love to turn the ball over and and are susceptible to getting blocked a lot. Reggie Lynch had a field day against the Terps (when he was on the court) and racked up 10 points, 10 board and 5 blocks in 25 minutes.

And the Terps aren’t infallible at home. They have two home conference losses, one of which came to Nebraska. So you know it can be done.

Keys to the Game

1. Tighten up that three-point defense

Maryland has been shooting the three very well the last three games, but they’ve been particularly beatable when they’ve gone cold from deep. They don’t have a great inside presence, so if things are falling from downtown they can get off their game. Clearly that wasn’t the case when they visited Williams Arena, but the Gophers have the best three-point defense in the conference, so you’d like to think that things will even out a bit this time around.

2. Watch that pick and roll

There were miscommunications abound for the Gophers in the second half of their first game against the Terps, and they just simply couldn’t figure out the pick and roll from the top of the key that was run on almost every play. Richard Pitino gave the defense an ‘F’ after that game, but since then they’ve been much tighter. Trimble will be an X-factor, but if the Gophers can keep their heads on straight with the Terps same old tricks they should be able to hang in.

Predictions

KenPom likes the Terrapins by four in this one, 72-68. I think the Gophers keep the good times rolling with a narrow 2-point victory and get some revenge on the road.