Here’s what you need to know about the No. 9 Maryland men’s basketball team’s game vs. Nebraska on Tuesday.
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: Xfinity Center, College Park, Maryland
TV/Video: Big Ten Network, Fox Sports Go
Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, SiriusXM 83 (Johnny Holliday, Chris Knoche)
Records: Maryland (19-4, 9-3 Big Ten) vs. Nebraska (7-16, 2-10)
Line: Maryland by 17 (as of Tuesday morning)
What to watch
1. Does Maryland keep a hold on its Big Ten lead against a lesser opponent?
With eight games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament and three contests against Michigan State and Rutgers, teams just two games behind Maryland, the Terps have an opportunity to extend their lead in conference standings. They’ll try to do it at home, where they are 13-0 this season, and against a Cornhuskers team that has won just two games in conference play. However, Maryland has often played down to the level of its competition. On the road against Northwestern, which sits last in the Big Ten, the Terps trailed by as many as 15 before a passionate halftime speech from coach Mark Turgeon and a plea to play “street ball” reversed the Terps’ fortunes. Maryland has shown the ability to stay composed and rally from deficits but Tuesday night marks an opportunity to separate themselves from the pack in a crowded Big Ten conference.
2. Do the Terps continue to get scoring from its supporting cast?
Throughout stretches this season, Maryland has struggled to find consistent scoring outside senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. and sophomore forward Jalen Smith. In recent games, the Terps have gotten contributions from a supporting cast of players, a good sign for a team whose depth was lauded entering the season. Junior guard Darryl Morsell is having one of the best scoring stretches of his career, averaging 14 in his last three games, including tying his career-high with 18 points in Friday night’s win over Illinois. Sophomore guard Eric Ayala rebounded from his shooting struggles with 12 points and fellow sophomore Aaron Wiggins, who had his own issues recently, added 10 points. “We’re a couple pieces away from being a deeper team,” Turgeon said Monday. “[When we] play back-to-back or four games in eight days or nine days, we’ve got to have that depth when that time comes here late in the season.”
3. Does the zone defense make an early return?
While Turgeon primarily employs a man-to-man defense, he’s been more reluctant to shift to a zone defense, especially when trying to dig his team out a deficit. That occurred again in Champaign, as the Terps used multiple forms of zone defenses to stifle Illinois’ offense and jumpstart their own. With a lack of depth inside following the departure of twin forwards Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, Turgeon may be better suited using a zone defense more often. Turgeon noted the speed and spacing of Nebraska at Monday’s news conference. This may be another game in which the Terps use a zone defense to keep their opponent out of the lane.