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Rutgers Men's Basketball Game Preview: Maryland

Rutgers enters tonight's game against #3 Maryland with just seven scholarship players.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch & Listen

TV: 7 pm on BTN

Radio: Rutgers IMG Radio Network WOR (710 AM) & WCTC (1450 AM); WRSU (88.7 FM)

Spread: Maryland -24

Injury Update

Deshawn Freeman, Shaq Doorson, and Ibrahima Diallo all remain out indefinitely. Jonathan Laurent is also out after knocking his head Saturday in the Wisconsin game. Rutgers has just seven scholarship players active for tonight's game.

About Maryland (13-1, 2-0)

The Terps are in a word, loaded!  This team has national championship aspirations, with their only stumble against fellow top 10 and former ACC rival, North Carolina.  They handled Georgetown and UCONN in the non-conference schedule and have taken down Penn State and Northwestern so far in B1G play. Maryland has five players scoring in double figures per game, but are led by star point guard Melo Trimble. He was named the preseason conference player of the year and he has had a good start to the season, averaging 15 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and almost 2 steals per game.  He is also shooting 48.5% from the field, including 40% from three-point range.

Diamond Stone is Corey Sanders chief competition for freshman of the year in the Big Ten and he is averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 59.5% from the field.  Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon and senior Jake Layman have been rock steady, both averaging close to 11 points a game and provide leadership.  Sulaimon is versatile, as he averages 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and is shooting 50% from three-point range on 54 attempts.

Maryland is averaging 79 points a game and is shooting 51.3% from the field, including 39% from long range.  They can score in bunches and in multiple ways.  Their starting frontline of Stone, Layman and Robert Carter stand at 6'11", 6'9" and 6'9".  Their backups are 6'11" Damonte Dodd and 7'1" Michal Cekovsky. To say Maryland has an advantage down low tonight would be the understatement of the season.  Rutgers played Maryland tough in both meetings last season, losing by 10 points in each game. On a side note, Maryland has the best player names in the B1G, with Melo Trimble, Diamond Stone, Ivan Bender, and Varun Ram as the highlights.

Keys To The Game

How Corey Sanders Responds

Eddie Jordan benched Sanders against Wisconsin for what he told Jerry Carino was a lack of "energy and positive spirit" in practice. Credit Jordan for pushing Sanders and sitting him when he felt it was needed.  It resulted in Sanders having one of his worst games of the season, scoring just 2 points on 1-8 from the field. Tonight will be interesting to see how Sanders responds and Rutgers needs a big effort from him to be competitive in this game. It is a match-up of arguably the two best freshman in the conference, between Sanders and Stone. They should both be pumped up and Sanders hopefully brings his "A" game. Without it, Rutgers doesn't stand a chance.

Defend The Glass

As I mentioned above, Maryland has a frontcourt comprised of five players that stands between 6'9" and 7'1". Rutgers has Greg Lewis at 6'9" and D.J. Foreman at 6'8". The five other scholarship players active for this game are 6'4" or shorter.  Rutgers got abused on the glass by the Badgers, and tonight could be much worse.  Expect a 2-3 zone with Lewis, Foreman, and Omari Grier, to try and help their effort on the boards by packing the paint.

Shoot the Lights Out

This isn't that complicated, Rutgers must have their best shooting performance of the season just to have a chance tonight.  Rutgers only averages 42.6% from the field and has shot over 50% in just three games against Rutgers-Newark, Central Arkansas, and UMass-Lowell.  Mike Williams, shooting just 38% for the season, needs to build off his 7-12 performance against Wisconsin on Saturday.  Omari Grier needs to continue his hot hand from deep and freshman Justin Goode needs to step up as well.

Pray for a Maryland Clunker

It sounds bad to say but it's true, Rutgers needs to hope Maryland comes out flat and has one of their worst performances of the season.  Rutgers can help that by giving a strong defensive effort.  Maryland is second in the Big Ten inshooting 51.3% from the field, and need to have an off night for Rutgers to have a chance.  The odds are slim, with Maryland likely to attack the paint due to the lack of size Rutgers will bring to the court. However, college basketball can be a crazy game so let's hope for the best.