The Big Ten rates as one of, if not, the best Conference in the country and both Indiana and Maryland are part of that. Both teams have had solid starts and look headed for the NCAA Tournament unless something bad happens. Like most Games in Conference play between quality teams, the home team has the advantage and that’s why the Terrapins get the edge.
Of course, it hasn’t been an easy season for Maryland as it already has two home losses, albeit one of those came to Virginia. The other one was against Seton Hall, while it also barely beat Nebraska at home a week ago. On the road, Maryland almost stole a Game at Purdue back in December and just beat Minnesota by 15 points, so home-cOurt advantage hasn’t been a huge deal for this team. The same can’t be said for Indiana as all three of its losses have come on the road, though two of those were against Duke and Michigan. But similar to Maryland, the Hoosiers have been in a ton of close Games, at one point beating Northwestern, Penn State, Louisville and Butler by a combined eight points in Four straight Games.
There are a lot of fascinating matchups and there’s a good chance this is another close Game. Indiana’s biggest question comes on the glass because to win on the road, it needs to rebound better. Juwan Morgan averages 16.7 points and 7.8 boards per Game, but he’s still only 6-8 and doesn’t have much help around him. Justin Smith is solid as a power forward, while the 6-10 De’Ron Davis missed the recent Michigan Game with an undisclosed injury and he’s still barely averaging 10 minutes per Game. Those are all issues because Maryland thrives on the boards between big men Bruno Fernando (14.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg) and Jalen Smith (12.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg). The Terps are near the top of the charts in terms of offensive and defensive rebounding and will be a problem for whatever lineup Indiana uses.
The other problem for Indiana is that point guard Rob Phiniesee remains in the concussion protocol and his absence has been a major issue since Devonte Green has taken over as point guard. Green is a solid option, but he’s been forced into a bigger role the last few Games along with Aljami Durham and Zach McRoberts. Without Phinisee, Indiana hasn’t been as good overall because stud freshman Romeo LAngford (18.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Juwan Morgan are the only ones that consistently produce.
Maryland point guard Anthony Cowan (16.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.3 apg) could have a bigger edge than usual if Phinisee doesn’t play. While the frontcOurt can dominate Games, Cowan is still the top scorer and he’s the reason the offense works, not only shooting the three ball, but also setting up the big men. Of course, with or without Phinisee, Indiana still has an edge in LAngford. The freshman has had shooting issues, but he can get to the lane whenever he wants and it’s unknown if Maryland has the guys to mark him between Aaron Wiggins, Darryl Morsell and Eric Ayala.
This Game should be close because that’s how these teams play, but with the edge down low between Smith and Fernando, the Terps could dominate the boards and also limit easy looks for LAngford when he attacks. The best way for Indiana to win is if LAngford goes for close to 30 points and that’s a hard thing to bet on.
Our Pick – By Friday