Big Ten conference play begins on Friday and fans will be treated to a ranked matchup between Illinois and Maryland that could have serious implications for March. Let’s take a look at what to expect.
Game of the Day:
-No. 16 Illinois Fighting Illini at No. 22 Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 9:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Illinois by 2
Big Ten play for both sides opens up with a showdown at the Xfinity Center in College Park. Maryland will play on its home floor for the seventh time in eight games while Illinois hits the road for its first true test of the season. Both sides come in ranked in the Top 25 and are not shy about running up and down the floor.
Brad Underwood has turned Illinois into one of the top programs in the Big Ten. This season should be no different. The Illini have already been tested, with a victory over UCLA and close loss to Virginia. For Maryland, this is the first big test of the season and it comes in conference play. Kevin Willard has been able to get his feet wet in his new position as head coach of the Terrapins and will now dive into Big Ten play.
What we know is that there will be points. Both sides play a fast-paced style and get a lot of shots up. Illinois is third in the conference scoring 83 points per game while Maryland is right behind with 82.1. Illinois likes to get out in transition and shoot the ball from the outside. The Illini are hitting 35.9% of their three-point field goals this season. This could be an area that they gain an advantage as Maryland is just 11th in the Big Ten, shooting 31.8% from deep.
On the other hand, a fast-paced game plan comes with some sloppiness. Illinois averages 15.3 turnovers per contest, which is the most in the conference.
No more Kofi Cockburn for the Illini, which means Donta Scott could look to get comfortable. He leads the Terps with 15,9 points per game and is shooting 51.7% on the season. For the Illini, Terrence Shannon Jr. has done damage over the early part of the season. He is third in the Big Ten, scoring 19.9 points per game and leads the group in made three’s with 21.
This game will come down to who can control the tempo early and often. On its home floor, Maryland will look to stay hot and earn its first signature win under Willard.
- Pick: Maryland