Today, we are previewing the Maryland at Indiana matchup tonight at 9pm on ESPNU. The teams have played only one time since the 2002 National Championship game where Maryland defeated Indiana 64-52 for the title. That matchup came in the 2009 Big Ten-ACC Challenge, when the Terps beat Indiana 80-69, but both teams are drastically different since then.
What’s happened since 2002?
C4B: Well, for Indiana basketball, there’s been quite a bit of change. Mike Davis was replaced by Kelvin Sampson, who was replaced shortly thereafter by Tom Crean, who basically had to rebuild the program from scratch. The Hoosiers haven’t come close to reaching the national championship game since their 2002 appearance, which is kind of disappointing given the talent that’s played in Bloomington since then. About the only thing that’s still pretty much the same are the candystripe pants.
DJ: For Maryland basketball, there has been a bit of change as well. Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams has retired and become a high level member of the Athletic Department and new coach Mark Turgeon has taken over. William’s last years were marked with a bit a decline after the national championship when star studded recruiting classes didn’t pan out. Maryland has missed the tournament every year since 2010, but appear to be back on the rise.
Current State of the Team
C4B: While you can’t really say a lot of people are happy with where the program is (this year’s success notwithstanding at the moment), most people are fairly content with a team that is graduating players and can make some noise on the court. A contingent of Hoosier fans exists that won’t be happy until Bobby Knight comes back to coach, and another group exists that feels Tom Crean can do no right and should be replaced immediately by Steve Alford, but outside of those people, there’s a general acknowledgement that while Crean has done a good job getting us back to this point, he may not be the coach who hangs banner 6. While his seat may not be the warmest in conference, he’s no longer sitting on an ice cube, either.
As far as the players go, the Hoosiers are a surprisingly young team who are still getting used to playing together. The way this year has gone has been a pleasant surprise, but as long as no major contributors head out the door at the end of the season, I’m really looking forward to next year’s team as one who could really make a deep run in the postseason. James Blackmon has come in and done basically what was expected of him, recent shooting slump aside, and Robert Johnson has outperformed just about everyone’s expectations. Troy Williams is in the middle of making what is now being called the "Oladipo leap" around here, going from a pretty good basketball player last year to being one of the team’s best this year. Yogi has taken the reigns of the team and been the leader we need more often than not, while not having to force as much of the offense as he did last year.
DJ: Well, things are currently looking fantastic this year. Maryland is off to a hot 17-2 start, jumping to 8th in the coaches poll and 13th in the AP. What’s more is that it appears they have finally solved the PG problem that has plagued the team since Vasquez graduated. Quite frankly, I’m absolutely giddy at the thought of us getting back to the tournament but even more so in the manner the Terps are doing it. Solid defense, above average free throw shooting, and the 3rd in the nation mark at getting to the line. What’s more is that Maryland is diverse in the way they can attack you on offense. They can destroy you from deep with Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley, driving to the lane with Dez Wells and Melo Trimble, or a solid combination of both with Jake Layman, who is also doing the dirty work on the boards.
If you had told me before this season that Maryland is looking to finish 26-7 (12-6) overall, I’d probably ask you what you were smoking. Now? Hell, now that looks like the lowest that they’ll finish. I have thrown expectations out the window at this point in the season, and now I’m just along for the ride, and it has been fantastic so far.
C4B: While getting the guards open is going to be pretty important for IU’s scoring success, I’m more curious to see who Maryland will be guarding Troy Williams with when the Hoosiers are on offense, and on defense, I’m wondering how IU is going to contain whatever post presence you have (because assuming we’ll be able to stop them is a bit optimistic, even for me).
DJ: The guard matchups are going to be fantastic in this one. At the point you have Yogi Ferrell matching up with a budding star in Melo Trimble, and at the 2 guard you’ll see Indiana’s star freshman James Blackmon taking on senior Dez Wells. It’s a bit opposite of sorts, and I’m sort of hoping that they switch it once in a while so we can get some Trimble against Blackmon action. As for who guards Troy Williams? I would guess that Jake Layman draws that matchup. His length and athleticism will give Williams fits, or at least I hope so.
C4B: Indiana has a pretty good tradition of welcoming ranked teams into Assembly Hall and sending them home with a loss. Even this year’s team has shown pretty good strength against top 25 foes coming in to Bloomington. I think the team is capable of pulling the upset, but they will need a few breaks to go their way. Worst case scenario, you guys come in and beat us by 15 in a game that isn’t terribly close otherwise. Best case scenario, everyone comes out shooting and IU wins by 10 or 12. I’ll go somewhere in between and say IU grinds out a win somewhere around 75-70.
DJ: I’m a bit scared of this matchup given the offensive firepower that Indiana has along with it being a road game in Assembly Hall with the students back. That being said, if Melo keeps being Melo and Maryland continues to play sound defense, I’ll say Maryland grinds this one out with a 69-65 win.