It has been a rough season for the Penn State Nittany Lions. Entering Sunday’s regular season finale, the Nittany Lions are just 9-13 overall, 6-12 in Big Ten play. However, the Nittany Lions have the opportunity to finish the regular season strong.
On Wednesday, the Nittany Lions capped off their home schedule with a dominant 84-65 win over Minnesota. Coming off arguably the best all-around game the Nittany Lions have played all season they will look to finish the regular season off with back-to-back wins when they travel to College Park on Sunday night to battle the Maryland Terrapins.
In the first matchup of the season between the two teams Penn State defeated Maryland 55-50 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions will be looking for a repeat performance, just maybe with a bit more offense this time, on Sunday night.
Scouting the Opposition
Maryland has taken their lumps offensively this season. The Terps average just 69.2 points per game which ranks 260th nationally. However, they do rank 3rd in the Big Ten in three-point field percentage at 35.6%.
Guards Eric Ayala (14.5 PPG) and Aaron Wiggins (13.9 PPG) lead the way in scoring for the Terps. Maryland only has one player on their roster that is at least 6-foot-8 and averages double digit minutes per game. The lack of a true big man is a big benefit for the Nittany Lions who also lack on themselves.
While, yes, they have struggled offensively this season, the Terrapins are one of the best defensive teams not just in the Big Ten but in the entire country. Maryland is allowing just 64.7 PPG this season which ranks 2nd in the Big Ten and 46th nationally.
Maryland also ranks 2nd in the Big Ten, and 43rd nationally, in opponent field goal percentage at 40.7%. Their three-point defense, however, ranks 8th in the Big Ten and 191st nationally with opponents shooting 33.8% from three against the Terps this season. This could be something to watch as Penn State’s 34.8% success rate from three this season ranks 4th in the Big Ten.
What to Watch For
Dating back to February 14 the Terrapins had won five games in a row. Well, this streak was ended when they were upset by Northwestern this past Wednesday. This was a poor loss for the Terps to take as they fight for their spot in the NCAA Tournament.
If Maryland captures a win on Sunday night and then gets at least one win in the Big Ten Torunament they should be a slam dunk to go dancing later this month. With a loss on Sunday, they could find themselves squarely on the bubble entering the Big Ten Tournament.
Due to this, the Nittany Lions should find themselves facing a very motivated Terrapins team on Sunday. Can the Nittany Lions rise to the occassion and match the motivation? Will Penn State repeat the way they played against Minnesota? As a wise man once said - time will tell.
Penn State is coming off arguably their best performance of the season, but Maryland is the more talented team and in need of wins for their NCAA Tournament life. The Terrapins walk away winners on Sunday night. Maryland 69, Penn State 62