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B1G Hoops Game of the Week: Maryland at Ohio State

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Two of the most mysterious teams in the Big Ten square off as conference foes for the first time.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Maryland Terrapins vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
When: Thursday Jan 29, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Value Center Arena, Columbus, OH
KenPom Rank: Maryland - 30; Ohio State - 20
KenPom Line: Ohio State -5

Maryland was as hot of a team to start out this year as any other team in the country coming into conference play., and it was all deserved. The only loss for the Terrapins came in the non-conference against undefeated No. 2 ranked Virginia without senior guard Dez Wells. Don't look at the cumulative statistics this year because nothing paints a picture of a Top-20 team. Coming into this week, the Terps didn't rank in the top 50 in offensive field goal percentage, team rebounds per game or assists per game. Not to mention the average experience of this young Maryland team averages to 1.45 years of playing experience. These are all the reasons why Mark Turgeon should be considered at the end of the year for national Coach of the Year.

Now don't forget about the Buckeyes. It's tough to watch this team led by freshman guard D'Angelo Russell and not think of what Penn State could be like with a significant supporting cast around D.J. Newbill. The freshman sensation Russell leads the Bucks in points and rebounds per game and is second to senior Shannon Scott in assists per game. My infatuation for this team has grown even more since freshman guard Jae'Sean Tate was added into the starting lineup and this looks like a more efficient team offensively.

Last Week

Technically I get credited with a win for picking Wisconsin, but I did not see that drumming of the Hawkeyes coming at all. There wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind who was the better team that night, but keep your eyes on the rematch in Iowa City on Saturday. I know Fran McCaffery will have his troops better prepared this time around.

Season: 5-2

Tale Of The Tape

16) Maryland (18-3, 6-2 Big Ten)

I know I just ran off the things that don't necessarily promote the Terps, but this team comes into this matchup with a sizable advantage in one aspect that's haunted the Buckeyes all year: rebounding. Maryland surrenders an offensive rebound on just under 29 percent of missed shots. The Bucks on the other hand are 225th in that category. If the Terps can control the glass against Ohio State, the Buckeyes will be in trouble.

And yes, that was a complement to a unit featuring Jon Graham.

Player to watch: Freshman G Melo Trimble (16.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.9 apg)

The individual matchup of Trimble-Russell could determine who takes the lead for Big Ten freshman of the year just before the halfway point in the conference season. Trimble is a much more drive-oriented guard and looking at how effective he is at the free throw line (87.9%), it shows he's got a plan when he attacks. If Trimble's driving lanes are there, don't be surprised if Scott, one of if not the best on-the-ball defender in the country, will handle guarding the freshman.

Ohio State (16-5, 5-3 Big Ten)

The win last Thursday in Evanston featured a new starting lineup for the Buckeyes this year. Temple-transfer Anthony Lee replaced senior big man Amir Williams and, as mentioned above, sophomore forward Marc Loving was removed for Tate. It's been effective (despite Lee playing only two minutes against Indiana on Sunday) in two different wins for a Buckeyes team that certainly hasn't reached its potential yet. This team isn't bad by any means, but there is certainly a lot of room to grow with their best win coming Sunday against the Hoosiers.

Player to watch: Freshman G D'Angelo Russell (19.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.1 apg)

In his last three games, Russell is averaging 27.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg and 6.0 apg for the Buckeyes. That does include the couple of highlight passes he's made during this run as well. Never once has this young man flinched at taking a big shot or backing down from the spotlight. The fact that a freshman guard is leading Ohio State in rebounding tells you all you need to know about Russell shooting up draft boards all over the place. Shooting over 44 percent from beyond the arc is remarkable, but that's not even the best on his own team (Loving at 50%). He's the catalyst for initiating the offense, but his unselfishness is why this team remains to be a success despite a minor flux in the starting lineup.

PREDICTION: Ohio State 83, Maryland 74

Maryland has the advantage in rebounding, free throw shooting and size. The way that Ohio State has played the last two games in a tight one at Northwestern and dominant second half performance against Indiana show me this team is starting to maybe turn the corner. The desperation for another marquee win will certainly be on the Buckeyes' minds and I wonder how much longer Maryland can ride this wave of confidence, only because it's extremely difficult to play this many games against new opponents. If it's a low scoring game, however, then that plays more into the hands of Maryland.

Other Big Ten games to watch this week:

Tuesday, Jan 27

  • Nebraska at Michigan

Wednesday, Jan 28

  • Minnesota at Penn State

Saturday, Jan 31

  • 5) Wisconsin at Iowa
  • Nebraska at Minnesota
  • Purdue at Northwestern

Sunday, Feb 1

  • Michigan at Michigan State