Who: Maryland (4-1) vs. Northwestern (6-0).
When: 9:15 p.m.
Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Ill.
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Second season, 21-16). Wildcats – Bill Carmody (13th season, 185-189)
As much as Turgeon and the Terps might play down the idea, this Windy City installment of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge becomes undeniably more enticing because of Maryland’s impending move from the former to the latter beginning in 2014. But this has plenty of implications for the Maryland men’s basketball team right now. This trip is the Terps’ only true road game until conference play, discounting the neutral-site battle against Kentucky in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the BB&T Classic game against George Mason at Verizon Center this weekend. Granted, Welsh-Ryan Arena isn’t exactly legendarily hostile territory, but getting away from the familiar confines of Comcast Center could disrupt Maryland’s rhythm. Or, and this is the more likely scenario, the Terps realize a road win would do wonders to boost a resume that otherwise will be littered with cupcake nonconference games, and they turn in a much more crisp effort than seen against the likes of Lafayette and Georgia Southern. Northwestern, meanwhile, is in a similar boat, having surged to a six-game winning streak to start the season against such juggernauts as Mississippi Valley State, Fairleigh-Dickinson, Delaware State and Illinois State.
1. Figure out the rotation? There won’t be room for much error here, so expect Turgeon to ride the hot hands with his rotation. He started both Logan Aronhalt and Charles Mitchell in the second half against Georgia Southern, if only because they were actually playing well. Turgeon hinted that he might trend away from the five-man line changes, especially in the second half, but his rotation has been a work in progress on a daily basis, more of an in-game decision than anything else.
2. Defend the backdoor? Northwestern’s crisp Princeton offense could give the Terps fits, especially if they’re undisciplined defensively and try to over-pursue on the perimeter. The system relies on sharp backdoor cuts and screens that either create open layups or three-pointers. Maryland has struggled to defend dribble-drives this season, and has been susceptible to hot-shooting teams. If the Wildcats get streaky, the Terps might be in trouble.
3. Survive the road? As stated earlier, this is Maryland’s only real road test before ACC play starts. Turgeon has said he cobbled together the relatively soft nonconference schedule before some of his top newcomers committed – notably Charles Mitchell and Dez Wells – so he was expecting a younger team to endure more growing pains. They’re still not where Turgeon wishes they were at this stage, but they can prove something on the road at Northwestern.
1: All-time meetings between Northwestern and Maryland. That happened in 1958.
89: Points by which Maryland’s bench has outscored its counterparts since the Kentucky game (124-35).
Plus-15.2: Maryland’s rebounding margin, tops in the ACC. The Terps are the only conference team in double digits.
“It’s a tough challenge for our team, where we are right now. They have shooters all over the floor. Lafayette got hot against us, we had trouble guarding it. That game will help us Tuesday. It’s just a hard game. A lot of stuff to throw at our guys. We’ve played against the system in the past. Hopefully we’ll break it down, have the right game plan defensively. Hopefully we’ll be able to execute it.” – Turgeon
“It makes us a dangerous team. You can take guys off the bench and you never know who is going to score. The other team has to choose who they’re going to key on and that opens shots up for guys like me and Charles [Mitchell].”— Aronhalt.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“Chicago” by Frank Sinatra.