Another Monday, another day off for Big Ten basketball. Luckily, conference play is back in session tonight with a game that quietly has the makings to be one of the most exciting games of the Big Ten season. Indiana travels to Maryland in a game between two of the conference’s better teams at the XFINITY Center in College Park. The game is nationally televised and NBA talent will be on full display under ESPN’s bright lights.
All spreads are based on Covers.com.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
-Indiana Hoosiers at Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 9:00PM ET — ESPN
- Covers.com Spread: Maryland (+2.5)
If Indiana basketball were a stock on the market, its shareholders would be frantically rushing to sell their shares. A team that opened the year at No. 11 in the AP Poll and leapt into the top five after a win against Kansas, the Hoosiers now find themselves spiraling downward. A span of three consecutive losses to Nebraska, Louisville and Wisconsin have sent the Indiana faithful into a whirlwind, as the team’s lone conference victory came last weekend against the lowly Fighting Illini.
An easy stop to the bleeding will have to wait another game, as Maryland is certainly no slouch. The focus will be on Indiana junior guard James Blackmon, who leads the team in scoring with 17 points a contest on 49 percent shooting. In the aforementioned three Hoosier losses, Blackmon has struggled to score, barely scraping double digits in each of the games.
As such, the weight of the offense needs to be allocated more onto the broad shoulders of NBA prospects OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant, who both average 12 points a game. If Blackmon comes out of the gates cold, the pressure will be on those two guys to pick up the slack and score the rock at a higher rate.
Maryland’s non-conference schedule was pretty lackluster, as the Terrapins only played three teams in the top 100, while their other opponents floated around the high-100 and 200 range. This year’s Maryland team is young and inexperienced, as the team suffered losses of key players from a year ago in Robert Carter Jr, Jake Layman, Diamond Stone and Rasheed Sulaimon. Junior guard Melo Trimble is the team’s only returning starter from last season.
Yet, the Terrapins are trudging along. Mark Turgeon’s club is 2-1 in the Big Ten, and they very well could be undefeated if it weren’t for a shocking 14-0 scoring run from Nebraska in the closing minutes to beat Maryland 67-65 on New Year’s Day.
To the surprise of no one, Trimble has been stellar, averaging nearly 18 points and shooting 46 percent from the field. But, the success of Maryland relies on it’s rookie supporting class, led by freshman forward Justin Jackson. Jackson is the second leading scorer on the team at 10.8 points per game and at 6’7”, he provides the luxury of being able to stretch the floor from the perimeter.
The stat to watch tonight is second chance points. Indiana has been crashing the offensive boards of late, led by Thomas Bryant, who ranks 10th in the Big Ten in that department. A matchup to watch is freshman Justin Jackson squaring up with the likes of Indiana’s proven big men Anunoby and Bryant. Jackson has been a pleasant surprise this year for Maryland, but it will be interesting to see how he fairs against an elite conference front court.
- Pick Against The Spread: Indiana