Coming off of arguably the biggest win in program history, Northwestern has an excellent opportunity to keep the good times rolling and move further toward locking up an NCAA Tournament bid with a win over the No. 23 Maryland Terrapins on Wednesday night.
However, it’s going to take another strong performance to accomplish just that. The Wildcats will be without leading scorer Scottie Lindsey once again and face a Maryland team that has thrived on winning close games all season long.
Here’s everything you need to know before the big game at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Make sure to check out our How to Watch and Opponent Q&A too.
Maryland at a glance
- Record: 21-4 (9-3 Big Ten, 6-1 on the road)
- RPI: 21 (NU is 34)
- KenPom: 38 (NU is 31)
- Good wins (ranks from KenPom): @No. 53 Georgetown, vs. No. 28 Kansas State (neutral), vs. No. 20 Oklahoma State, @No. 30 Michigan, @No. 39 Minnesota
- Bad losses: vs. No. 68 Pittsburgh, vs. No. 82 Nebraska, @No. 85 Penn State
- Head coach: Mark Turgeon, sixth season. 133-63 with Maryland, 34-13 in nearly three seasons of Big Ten conference play. Previous stops: Jacksonville State, Wichita State, Texas A&M.
Players to Watch
- Melo Trimble, junior guard (16.6 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.2 spg)
Trimble is the clear star and leader of the Terrapins. He plays almost 32 minutes per game, uses 28 percent of Maryland’s possessions when he’s in and is solid defensively. Statistically, Trimble’s last two seasons have actually been worse than his incredible freshman campaign, but he’s still an elite scorer, especially in crunch time.
- Justin Jackson, freshman forward (11.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 44.2% from 3)
Behind Trimble, Turgeon’s three most important players are all freshmen. Jackson, who bears no relation to The Ball Carrier, might be the best of the three. He’s second on the team in points and first in rebounds and three-point percentage. Jackson is the rare player who is deadly from the outside and very physical in the paint.
- Kevin Huerter, freshman guard (9.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 38.5% from 3)
Huerter and Jackson are both 6-foot-7 despite their different position classifications. The two play relatively similarly, although Jackson has the better stats and Huerter has the redder hair. Huerter is always a threat to go off, as he did with 26 points on 7 of 11 shooting from deep against Nebraska.
- Anthony Cowan, freshman guard (10.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.6 apg)
The final member of Maryland’s trio of four-star freshmen is Cowan, who has taken over for Trimble at point guard this season as the star junior has slid over to shooting guard. Cowan is quick, athletic and an adept ball-handler and distributor. He plays nearly 30 minutes per game.
This should be a tight, competitive game. Maryland is young, but its freshmen have played like upperclassmen for the majority of the season. What worries me most about the Terrapins is their depth and their penchant for winning close games and winning on the road. With three solid big men in Damonte Dodd, Michael Cekovsky and Ivan Bender, as well as sixth man Jaylen Brantley and role players like Jared Nickens and LG Gill, Turgeon has the ability to go 9 or 10 deep every game, while Chris Collins is realistically limited to eight players with Lindsey out. And to my second point, Maryland is 5-2 in games decided by 5 points or fewer, whereas Northwestern is 3-3. The Wildcats have had just two full days to recover since the emotional win in Madison in which Bryant McIntosh and Vic Law went the full 40 minutes and Dererk Pardon banged with Ethan Happ for 35. It’s a game that begs for Collins to squeeze a few minutes out of his reserves to cut down on his starters’ minutes, and even if he does, mental and physical fatigue could be a problem. I also think Maryland has a greater number of reliable offensive threats. Law will likely guard Trimble and Sanjay Lumpkin will get Jackson, which leaves Huerter with a mismatch against Nathan Taphorn or Isiah Brown. Additionally, I think the Terps have more proven, talented depth in the post compared to Gavin Skelly and Barret Benson. Northwestern will need McIntosh, Law and Pardon to be on their A-games in order to pick up the win.
- KenPom prediction: Northwestern 70, Maryland 65
- My prediction: Maryland 74, Northwestern 69