Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus previews the No. 14 Maryland men's basketball team's game against No. 5 Wisconsin at Xfinity Center. (Kevin Richardson/BSMG)
A look at five things to watch during the No. 14 Terps' game against No. 5 Wisconsin in men's basketball at Xfinity Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
1. Mark Turgeon mentioned during Monday's Big Ten coaches' teleconference that Wisconsin has made 75 more free throws than any other team in the league has attempted. Not sure where the Maryland coach is getting his information, since the Terps actually have made (481) more than two teams (Northwestern and Michigan State) have attempted (one behind Illinois) and attempted (643) more than any other team, way ahead of the Badgers (413-548). Those numbers usually go up at home for Maryland as well.
2. The biggest area of concern for Turgeon has to be rebounding, with turnovers not that far behind. The Terps gave up 10 offensive rebounds last Thursday against Nebraska, one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the nation. And, for the second game in a row, Maryland did not pull down a single offensive board in the first half (the Terps had only one for the game). While the Terps have cut down on their turnovers in the last three games, they need to replicate the effort they had earlier this season against Virginia, when Maryland had just seven.
3. How the Terps are going to stop Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky is probably the biggest matchup problem for Turgeon and his coaching staff going into the game. The 7-foot senior scored 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting Saturday against Minnesota and recently scored 23 points on 11 of 16 against Illinois. At least against the Illini, Kaminsky found himself in favorable post-up situations against smaller players. It will be interesting to see whether Turgeon will use a combination of Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, or whether he'll put in Jon Graham, who is smaller (6 feet 8) but more savvy and a more physical defender than either the 6-11 Dodd or the 7-1 Cekovsky.
4. The pace of the game certainly will play a factor in the outcome, and it might determine whether the Terps have any chance of winning. It's not just a matter of speeding up the game from an offensive standpoint for Maryland. If anything, the Terps have a better chance to get the Badgers out of their comfort zone by trying to speed them up with a press or an active zone defense that could turn defense into offense. It might be worth taking a chance, since there seems to be little chance of the Terps winning a slow-down, halfcourt game with one of the best -- outside of Virginia -- to play that way. Like the Cavaliers, Wisconsin has improved in the open court as well.
5. In the past, Maryland beat top-ranked teams when at least two players had big games or, in the case of a win over then-No. 2 Duke in the 2013 ACC tournament, Dez Wells went off. In the first win over the No. 2 Blue Devils that season, Alex Len had 19 points and Seth Allen scored 16 -- all in the second half. Against No. 5 Virginia last season in the regular-season finale, Evan Smotrycz had a big first half, followed by Wells and Allen in the second half and overtime. Lately, it has been Wells and freshman guard Melo Trimble. I still think the biggest X-factor is Jake Layman. The Terps are 6-0 in games when Layman has scored 20 points or more, including wins this season over Oklahoma State (21 points and 11 rebounds) and Michigan State (23 and 12). The only problem is that the 6-9 junior has never scored more than 18 against a ranked team (Duke and Pittsburgh), and the Terps lost both.