On Friday, the Big Ten has a light schedule with just one team in action. However, considering that it's the Big Ten's preseason favorite trying to rebound after the team's loss, there's plenty of intrigue. December may not have as many high profile matchups as November, but it's a month where playing consistently and avoiding upsets is incredibly important and it will be no different on Friday.
Let's take a look at the action.
Game of the Night: St. Francis PA at Maryland Terrapins (7:00PM ET - BTN)
The Terps suffered the team's first loss on Tuesday in a thrilling matchup with North Carolina. It was advertised as the best game of this year's Big Ten-ACC Challenge and even if it didn't fully live up to the hype, it was a great game between two teams that should be in the national picture by season's end.
Now, Maryland will get a matchup with an underwhelming St. Francis PA team at home before facing Connecticut on a neutral court next week. In short, the Terps are getting a "filler" game sandwiched between games against top 25 teams with neither at home.
If that doesn't deserve the phase "trap game," then I'm not sure what deserves it.
The good news is that St. Francis PA is not a great team. The Red Flash is 3-3 on the season, has losses to two teams rated outside the top 100 teams on KenPom, and has yet to beat a top 200 team on KenPom. In fact, St. Francis PA comes in at just No. 262 nationally in KenPom as of Friday morning and finished well outside the top 200 last season as well.
It's just not a great team.
Of course, there are still a few areas and players where St. Francis PA could test Maryland. Two stronger areas for the Red Flash are the team's ability to avoid turnovers and to get to the free throw line. In fact, St. Francis PA is No. 15 nationally in steals allowed and No. 79 nationally in ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts.
The key players to watch for the Red Flash will be Isaiah Blackmon, Greg Brown, and Ben Millaud-Meunier. All three average at least 12.0 points per game and have offensive ratings over 100. Blackmon spends his time in the backcourt, Brown plays on the wing, and Millaud-Meunier can play at a handful of positions in the backcourt or on the wing if needed.
For Maryland, this is probably not an exciting game, but there are a few interesting things to watch. To start, seeing how the team is prepared mentally could tell a lot about where the Terps are headed long-term. Maryland lost on Tuesday for the first time this season and seeing how it rebounds will be huge.
Additionally, both Robert Carter and Jake Layman had rough games against North Carolina and will look to rebound. The frontcourt also had an underwhelming game overall against North Carolina and this should be another matchup where players like Damonte Dodd and Diamond Stone can make some noise.
Overall, the matchup doesn't look exciting on paper, but has plenty of interesting factors. Plus, it's the only Big Ten game on Friday night, making it must watch television.