Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
The No. 8 Maryland Terrapins’ two largest victories this season have followed their two largest losses.
When they lost by eight points to the now No. 2 North Carolina, they returned to College Park and beat Saint Francis by 41. This month, they came home to smash Ohio State 100-65 after suffering a three-point defeat at Michigan.
Coming off of their third loss of the season at No. 12 Michigan State, the Terps (17-3, 6-2 B1G) look to continue their trend of winning big after a loss when they host no. 3 Iowa (16-3, 7-0 B1G). The Hawkeyes may be their toughest opponent yet.
“It’s a game for us to bounce back and hopefully to get a win against a great team Iowa that has been dominating the league so far,” point guard Melo Trimble said. “Going into this game, they’re talked about more than us, they’re even ranked higher than us and it’s a great opportunity for us to get this win.”
With six weeks left in the regular season, and two postseason tournaments ahead, head coach Mark Turgeon dismissed the notion that the team’s matchup with the Hawkeyes is a must win.
“We’ll be fired up to play,” Turgeon said. “We’ll be prepared to play, it’s a great opportunity for us, playing a great team, that’s playing as well as anybody in the country and just killing teams, the games aren’t really close.”
The Hawkeyes are ranked the highest they’ve been in 29 years. They’ve defeated five teams ranked in the AP top 25 this season, more than anyone else.
They also boast forward Jarrod Uthoff, a mid-season All-American and potential national player of the year. Uthoff is currently averaging 18.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, leading the Big Ten in points and blocks.
Though Uthoff has stood out, the Terps will need to slow down Iowa’s balanced motion offense. Iowa plays a nine-man rotation with six players averaging more than seven points per game.
“Our whole team has to be dialed in because of their motion offense and how well they run their offense and how they space the floor,” Turgeon said.
The Terps will also try to regain an edge on the boards. In an overtime victory against Northwestern last week, the Terps were outrebounded 41 to 32 overall and 16 to four on the offensive glass. In their loss to the Spartans, they fell short on the boards 46 to 36 and 17 to 9 on the offensive glass.
“We haven’t boxed out as well, we’ve been out hustled for some and the ball has bounced,” Turgeon said. “In the Michigan State game there were three or four bounces that bounced their direction. That’s college basketball and that’s the way it is. I’d rather have all the bad bounces now and come late in the season get a few more breaks going our way. But that’s an excuse, we have to do better on the boards.”
Trimble, who grabbed a team high seven rebounds in the loss at Michigan State, thinks that the front court will pick up their play on the boards against the Hawkeyes.
“It’s just about boxing out and getting the rebound,” Trimble said. “Everyone talks about double digits in rebounds, ten rebounds, but it’s just effort, I just talk to them about how much it means for them to rebound… tomorrow will be a perfect time for them to pick it up.”
Improving their rebounding and countering the Hawkeyes’ offense should help the Terps in their efforts Thursday.
On Thursday, on the heels of their third loss this season, the Terps aim to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since March of 2014.
In what will be the first ever matchup between two top ten teams at the Xfinity Center, the Terps will need to bring their best.
“If we’re going to beat Iowa,” Turgeon said. “It’s going to take our whole team.”
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