Game Preview: Men’s Basketball vs. Maryland
Host Zach Donaldson, Jordan Hession and Ben Geller preview Penn State’s matchup versus Maryland.
After suffering a 32-point loss to Ohio State on Saturday, the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-2) will be looking to bounce back on Tuesday versus the No. 4 Maryland Terrapins (10-0).
Penn State is coming off of a performance to forget. The Nittany Lions’ suffocating defense has been lethal and a pleasure to watch all season, but No. 3 Ohio State put up more than 100 points on that same unit.
The Nittany Lions’ next game, which resumes a brutal two-game stretch to begin conference play, isn’t any easier, as they’ll be taking on undefeated Maryland.
Maryland is coming off a close victory over Illinois. The Terrapins escaped a game where they never led until the final minute. A pair of Anthony Cowan Jr. free throws with two seconds remaining were ultimately what sealed the win for the Terps.
Keys to the game for Penn State
Maryland is a team that likes to shoot the 3-ball. However, the Terrapins shooting a measly 30% from 3-point range on the season. Penn State’s defense has been a standout for the team all year. It’s one of the Nittany Lions’ main strengths, and it starts on the perimeter with the guards. Jamari Wheeler, the team leader in steals, Myreon Jones and Myles Dread are going to have to be aggressive and contest jump shots like they’ve done all year to keep that trend alive.
The matchup between Mike Watkins and Jalen Smith is going to be one to break out the popcorn for. They both can make a strong case for the title of the best big man in the Big Ten. With both being rebounding and shot-blocking machines, whichever wins the battle underneath will be a difference-maker. Watkins, with more experience, and playing at home, may have the slight advantage.
As for the offense, the Nittany Lions need to have all-around production from their young guards if they want to compete against Maryland and opponents of their caliber.
Keys to the game for Maryland
Senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. has been getting it done for Maryland for years. This year, he’s one of the top guards in the entire country. He’s experienced, poised and has the ability to take over the game at any given moment.
Another notable upperclassman guard for Maryland is junior Darryl Morsell. He’s an all-around versatile player who has put together a solid season for the Terps up to this point.
Cowan and Morsell are both stellar defensively. With two excellent players and leaders in the backcourt, it’s certainly going to present a challenge for Penn State’s young guards, which, at times, have a tendency to make mistakes and play lost.
Additionally, Penn State’s half-court offense has become stagnant at times this season, which is one of the team’s most glaring weaknesses. If Cowan, Morsell and the Terps can exploit Penn State’s inexperience in the backcourt and limit Penn State’s three-point makes, things could get ugly for the Nittany Lions.
The Terrapins’ last game versus Illinois showed that they are in fact beatable. Back home at the Bryce Jordan Center, led by senior stars Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, Penn State is going to come out firing and rebound in a big way by defeating the Terps.
Prediction: Penn State 68, Maryland 67
Zach Donaldson is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.