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12/14 Big Ten Preview: Maryland Hosts Rutgers

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Rutgers Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

There’s only one game tonight with Rutgers and Maryland both set to play their first conference game of the year.

Game of the Night

#21 Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 6:00 PM ET (BTN)

Rutgers and Maryland will tip off their Big Ten season tonight. The 21st ranked Scarlet Knights will look to improve to 5-0 coming off of a ten point win against Syracuse. As for Maryland, they’ll look to bounce back after losing to Clemson last week.

While the loss to Clemson in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge wasn’t pretty, Clemson has an elite defense so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see a young Terps team struggle heavily on the road. After rolling past a number of mid-major opponents, Maryland fell flat against their first viable opponent. Rutgers will provide more of the same, but this time the game is at home against a Scarlet Knights team that doesn’t have as good of a defense as the Tigers.

Rutgers knocked off Syracuse last week even though they committed 17 turnovers while struggling from three. Of course having a 42-26 rebound advantage, including 13 offensive rebounds, was a big help. Ron Harper Jr. led the Knights with 26 points and has been a force all year, leading the team in scoring in three of four games so far this season. Maryland will provide a similar challenge, though this will be the first road game this season for Rutgers.

Winning on the road hasn’t always been easy for Rutgers, though one has to wonder if playing in empty arenas will prove to be less of a challenge. The Scarlet Knights backcourt trio of Harper Jr., Montez Mathis and Jacob Young have excelled so far so it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up in conference play. They’ll have to clean up several areas once the schedule ramps up, particularly their 14 turnovers per game, 32.3% three point shooting and 59.8% free throw shooting.

The Terps haven’t been perfect this year but they’ve committed fewer turnovers, converted from the line and have fared better from deep. The Maryland defense has also slowed down opponents from the perimeter and cleaned up on the glass, meaning Rutgers will have to convert on scoring opportunities and limit turnovers.

It’ll be interesting to see if the home court advantage in the conference will still rear it’s head this year. In other sports home teams have seemingly still had the advantage, even in relatively empty arena/stadiums. Maryland will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Clemson and should find a way to land a much needed upset.

Pick: Maryland