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Penn State vs. Maryland Preview: Nittany Lions Try to Fend Off Terrapin Sweep

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Can Penn State work up a little Valentine's Day magic and bring some upset love to the BJC? [/logs off]

Please don't let this man go off on Penn State again. K thanx bye.
Please don't let this man go off on Penn State again. K thanx bye.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Maryland Terrapins
When: Tomorrow, 8:30 PM ET
Where: Bryce Jordan Center (University Park, PA)
TV: BTN
KenPom Rank: 38
Vegas Line: (None listed - 50% odds of a PSU win according to KenPom)
Enemy Blog: Testudo Times

Just a mere ten days after their initial meeting, which saw Penn State drop a close one in College Park (and saw Jon Graham go off against his former team), PSU and Maryland will have their rematch tomorrow night in Happy Valley. With the regular season rapidly coming to a close and with the likes of Wisconsin, Ohio State (again), and Iowa still ahead, this is one of the better remaining chances for PSU to pull off a signature upset, much like they did over the Buckeyes twice last year, against then-fourth ranked Michigan in 2013 (shout-out to the transitive property national runners-up!), and against a then-Top 25 Illinois team in 2012.

Scouting The Opposition

Since beating PSU, the Terps have gone on to lose by double digits (71-55) at Iowa and win a tight one at home (68-66) in a rematch against Indiana. The loss to Iowa saw them get down 22-3 early on thanks to some stifling defense (0.86 PPP allowed) and efficient offense (1.11 PPP) by the Hawkeyes. The win against the Hoosiers saw a much more efficient offensive performance from the Terps (1.08 PPP). The key for PSU obviously, will be to make sure they can get off to a more Iowa-like defensive start and get the Terps into an early double-digit hole because science knows, Penn State Basketball is gonna Penn State Basketball at some point and allow the Terps to go on a big run, and a double-digit lead would provide some much-needed insurance against such an event.

What To Watch For

Jon Graham came off the bench in the first meeting against PSU and had the game of his career: 16 points and six rebounds against PSU's non-existent big men. It ended up making all the difference in the six-point victory, as he helped pick up the scoring slack from Trimble. Don't expect an encore performance from Graham tomorrow night, but it's not as if PSU's big men suddenly transformed into Anthony Davis clones, so look for him to continue to be a factor down low for the Terps. Layman of course, will also continue to make life miserable in the paint, and one should probably expect a performance similar to his 10 points/9 boards he racked up in the first outing.

Additionally, PSU will need to once again hold Trimble in check. Once again, some multiple zone looks will be PSU's best bet to do so, as the last thing anyone wants is to see someone try to handle his athleticism mano-a-mano.

Prediction

Penn State has far and away, looked more impressive at home, earning all three of its conference wins thus far, at the BJC. A lot will depend on whether Trimble can be contained like he was in the first outing and if a surprise Jon Graham-like contributor doesn't emerge once again, as well as whether Brandon Taylor or someone else on the team catches fire from three-point range. The good news for PSU is that Maryland hasn't exactly been a road warrior of late. Their last three road outings have seen them give up 71 (Iowa), 80 (Ohio State), and 89 (Indiana). Granted, those three teams are all better than PSU, but I'm telling you there's a chance...and it's greater than Lloyd Christmas' chances of ending up with Mary Samsonite.

I'm going to get homeristic on you and say that D.J. Newbill steps up for another 20+ point game with Taylor and Shep Garner pitching in their share of scoring, along with a fourth player (looking at you, Geno Thorpe) reaching or getting near double digits and PSU wins a higher-scoring battle, 72-69.