Here’s what you need to know about the No. 9 Maryland men’s basketball team’s game vs. No. 24 Michigan State on Saturday:
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Xfinity Center, College Park, Maryland
Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
Records: Maryland (23-5, 13-4 Big Ten) vs. Michigan State (19-9, 11-6)
Line: Maryland by 2½ (as of Saturday morning)
What to watch
1. Does Anthony Cowan Jr. regain his groove on offense?
While head coach Mark Turgeon has been happy with senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr.'s all-around play, there’s no doubt Cowan has struggled to find his shot recently. In his past two games, Cowan has shot a combined 3-of-19 from the field and missed all nine of his 3-point attempts.
He’s also uncharacteristically received two technicals in the span after being frustrated over a lack of foul calls when driving to the basket.
In the teams’ first matchup on Feb. 15, Cowan scored the Terps’ first eight points before cooling off, then ended the game with 11 straight points to complete a come-from-behind victory in East Lansing.
Maryland could use a big game from its senior leader in front of a nationally televised audience.
2. Does Maryland’s perimeter defense come back to form?
Part of the reason Maryland has dug itself into holes in the past two games has been because of hot starts from the opposing teams. In Sunday’s 79-72 loss to Ohio State, the Buckeyes made five 3-pointers in the game’s first eight minutes. And Wednesday, Minnesota hit on six of its first seven attempts from deep.
Sophomore guard Aaron Wiggins said he believed his team was defensively locked in to start its game against the Gophers but “[Minnesota] didn’t miss. There were a few shots that they hit that we didn’t expect them to hit.”
The Terps are one of the best teams defending on threes in the Big Ten, allowing opponents to make 31.9% of their attempts, tied for fifth in the conference.
3. How does Maryland respond to the buzz surrounding the program?
Maryland is hosting ESPN’s “College GameDay” for the first time since 2005. The 2004 ACC Championship men’s basketball team will be honored during Saturday’s game. And the Terps can clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a win.
The attention of the greater college basketball world will be on Turgeon and his ninth-ranked team, more so then it ever has this season. Turgeon and multiple players were in attendance at Xfinity Center to soak in the environment.
Sophomore guard Eric Ayala said the possibility of clinching a share of the Big Ten title creeps into his mind “a little bit but doesn’t overwhelm me, doesn’t overwhelm my teammates. We know what it’s front of us right now."
Maryland hasn’t been afraid of the big moment, rallying from four deficits of at least 14 points this season. But Saturday evening will be a different atmosphere and an unprecedented experience for the Terps.