Fresh off its first signature win of the season, Northwestern (15-10, 6-6 B1G) has another opportunity for a statement victory when it visits Maryland (16-10, 5-8 B1G) for a Saturday matinee in College Park, Md.
Injuries and brutal scheduling have taken the wind out of the sails of a Maryland team that started the season 14-4 and looked to be on the right side of the bubble just a few weeks ago. Standout sophomore Justin Jackson and starting big man Ivan Bender both went down with season-ending injuries before January and the Terrapins have been reliant on sophomores Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter.
Maryland’s Big Ten schedule isn’t doing them any favors either. The Terps play (or will play) Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, and Penn State twice this season. Maryland lost games to Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State by an average of 4.5 points.
Nonetheless, this is a solid Maryland team that is better than its 5-8 Big Ten mark indicates. Maryland is 1-6 on the road in conference play but 4-2 at home, with those two losses coming to Purdue and Michigan State. Northwestern can’t sleepwalk in this early afternoon matchup and expect to come out with a win. Led by Cowan (39.6 percent) and Huerter (43.9 percent), the Terrapins shoot the ball very well from deep and could cause problems if Chris Collins opts for the matchup zone that has been working for the Wildcats lately. Maryland gets to the line well and shoots 75.5 percent from the stripe.
In conference play, Maryland’s problems have come on the other side of the ball, where the Terrapins are 13th in the Big Ten. Mark Turgeon’s squad isn’t particularly dynamic and opponents have found a lot of open three-pointers and knocked them down.
Here’s a closer look at how the Terrapins and the Wildcats stack up:
As we noted on Thursday, today’s matchup in College Park represents another chance at a Tier 1 and top-60 RPI win. For a Northwestern team in desperate need of quality wins to keep its fading NCAA tournament hopes alive, this is one of two more regular season chances for the Wildcats to pad their resume.
Game Time: 11 a.m. CST
Radio: WGN 720
KenPom prediction: 70-64, Maryland (28 percent chance of NU winning)
Betting line: Maryland -4.5
Last meeting: Northwestern 72, Maryland 64 (March 10, 2017)