With Thursday's major matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Maryland Terrapins, it seemed like a good time to bring BTPowerhouse's writers together and get their thoughts heading into the game. It's certainly a huge game for both sides and could shape the Big Ten title chances for each.
Check out the discussion below.
1. What Are Your General Thoughts On This Matchup and What Does It Mean Going Forward?
Thomas Beindit: Maybe this sounds like hyperbole, but I really don't think so. This is probably the biggest game yet in Big Ten play for the conference. Iowa has easily been the best team in the conference over the last few weeks and will have to prove itself yet again in a marquee road game. On the other side, Maryland has made it all the way to the end of January and still doesn't have a top 30 win. If the Terps are going to live up to the hype, this is sort of a last stand to grab a huge win and get back in the Big Ten title race.
Bryan Steedman: Iowa is the hottest team in the Big Ten right now, but don't forget that a few weeks ago Michigan State held that title and before that it was Maryland. The Hawkeyes are hot right now and rolling, so it'll be interesting to see if they can keep it up on the road against Maryland. Iowa needs to win games like this if they want to prove they're a legitimate contender for a #1 seed, but they can lose here and be perfectly fine in the Big Ten. As for Maryland, they have had a few disappointing losses so far and have looked more human than anticipated heading into the season, so beating Iowa would go a long way to getting things back on track.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: This game means a lot more in the grand scheme of things for Maryland than it does for Iowa. Just being honest. As it stands, Iowa has wins over seven teams ranked in KenPom's current Top-50, with sweeps over Purdue and Michigan State. Maryland has one (with three losses in their other match ups). Maryland needs to win this game, at home, in hopes of staying in contention for the Big Ten regular season title and to get back on track mentally. They are a better basketball team than they showed against Michigan State and Northwestern last week.
Marco Knudsen: This is a big game for Iowa, but a bigger game for Maryland. It's hard to imagine that we're saying that as Maryland is 17-3, but they haven't played very well lately. Rebounding continues to be an issue with the Terrapins, which was unexpected heading into the season. It will be interesting to see how the Maryland frontcourt comes out against the experienced interior for Iowa.
Andrew Holmes: You really have to consider this one of Iowa's last great tests. If they can win at Maryland and in Assembly Hall it will be extremely difficult to pick against them in any of their other match-ups. For Maryland, this is a chance to prove they can knock-off another top team. Their best win until now might be at Wisconsin. Until they take down another one of the Big Ten's top teams, there will continue to be doubters.
2. What's The Matchup To Watch When Iowa and Maryland Tip-Off?
Thomas Beindit: Give me the matchup on the wing between Robert Carter and Jarrod Uthoff. If the Terps are going to have a real shot at coming out on top in this one, Carter is going to have to show up big. Uthoff has been unbelievable over the last few weeks and is the centerpiece of Iowa's team. Carter needs to slow him down and prevent him from getting open lanes and looks, where he can do so much damage.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: Diamond Stone and Adam Woodbury. Not to steal off a piece I'm currently working on, but Adam Woodbury is silently having a fantastic season. Before the year, I thought for Iowa to be successful that Woody would have to affect the box score more than he has during his three years on campus. I was way off. Iowa's seven footer doesn't need to put the ball through the hoop to make an impact, instead he just needs to protect the hell out of the rim and body up the behemoths on the defensive end. And that's exactly what he's done. He's swallowed up some of the the Big Ten's best forwards and I can't wait to see how he handles the freshman.
Marco Knudsen: I'm interested in seeing how Maryland guards the perimeter, as Iowa has been on a 3-point shooting frenzy lately. I'm curious to see who guards Jarrod Uthoff. Perhaps Jake Layman would be the best option defensively due to the length that can matchup with Uthoff.
Andrew Holmes: Mike Gesell and Trimble. Gesell has been great for the Hawkeyes so far, but he hasn't played anyone with Melo's talent. If he can't contain Trimble it'll be a long night for Iowa. The difference between Gesell playing well and playing just average will be enough to change the outcome.
3. Who Wins On Thursday Night?
Thomas Beindit: Like several of the other writers below, I've been burned for picking against Iowa a few times this year and I'm not going down that road again. Give me the Hawkeyes in a tight one. I think Maryland is going to have too much trouble staying with shooters in transition and defending ball screens to come out on top.
Bryan Steedman: Iowa has been hot but they're due for an off night and a top 10 showdown at Maryland is going to create an explosive atmosphere. If Iowa plays like they have this month, they'll win easily. But Maryland is bound to play up to their potential sooner or later and I feel like they'll get things going this Thursday night.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: I don't know if there is such a thing as an "off night" for Iowa. If Uthoff can't get going (let's be serious), Peter Jok (a Top-10 scorer in the conference) is right there and has inserted himself as one of the elite players in this conference thanks to a quick jump shot and rededicated defensive effort. Then there is the two headed point guard monster with Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell that have shown multiple times this season that they can share some of the offensive load when in need. Sure, it's going to be hard to win at Maryland, but the Hawkeyes just started getting a taste of the national attention. I don't think they let it slip away. So, I'm taking my Dad's advice and not walking away from a heater. Hawks by six.
Marco Knudsen: This is a tremendous opportunity for Maryland to make a statement against the hottest team in the conference. This will be a fun game of pace management, and if the Terps can get Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone going early, that will be key. Maryland 72, Iowa 67.
Andrew Holmes: I think I've learned my lesson picking against Iowa this season. I'll take the Hawkeyes in a close one.