Rutgers (9-6; 3-2) at Maryland (9-7; 1-4)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: Xfinity Center in College Park, Maryland (19,900 capacity)
Tip-off: Saturday, January 15 at 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: BTN - Kevin Kugler and Len Elmore
Stream: FOX Sports Live
NET Rankings: Rutgers No. 123; Maryland No. 104
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers - No. 96, nine spots worse following a 66-49 loss to Penn State on Tuesday; Maryland - No. 63, five spots better following a 94-87 win in double overtime over Northwestern on Wednesday.
Efficiency Rankings: Rutgers - Offense 105.2 (144th) Defense 97.4 (59th); Maryland - Offense 108.6 (84th) Defense 97.2 (58th)
KenPom Prediction: Maryland 70 Rutgers 65. Rutgers is given a 30% chance to win.
Vegas Line: Maryland -5
Series History: Maryland leads the all-time series 12-5 and 9-2 as Big Ten foes. They split the season series last year with both teams winning on the road.
OTB Podcast Episode on Rutgers Hoops:
Maryland: 6’5” senior Eric Ayala - 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 37.3% 3-pt FG; 5’11” senior Fatts Russell - 13.2 points, 4.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 32.6% 3-pt FG; 6’8” junior Donta Scott - 11.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists; 6’8” junior Hakim Hart - 10.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals; 31.1% 3-pt FG; 6’11” junior Qudus Wahab - 8.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 56.7% FG; 6’9” freshman Julian Reese - 6.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks; 6’3” sophomore Ian Martinez - 2.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists; 6’6” senior guard Xavier Green - 2.0 points, 2.6 rebounds
Rutgers: 6’6” senior Ron Harper Jr. - 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 44.0% 3-pt FG; 6’11” sophomore Cliff Omoruyi - 11.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 60.2% FG; 6’4” senior Geo Baker - 11.5 points, 4.1 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 35.0% 3-pt FG; 6’7” senior Caleb McConnell - 7.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.2 steals; 6’6” junior Paul Mulcahy - 6.7 points, 4.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals; 6’6” sophomore Aundre Hyatt - 5.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists; 6’7” sophomore Mawot Mag - 4.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, 33.3% 3-pt FG; 6’8” freshman Jaden Jones - 4.4 points, 1.4 rebounds; 6’8” senior Ralph Gonzales-Agee - 2.9 points, 1.4 rebounds; 6’10 sophomore Dean Reiber - 2.0 points, 1.5 rebounds; 6’2” freshman Jalen Miller - 1.4 points
It’s been a tumultuous season for the Terps with former head coach Mark Turgeon stepping down in December after a 5-3 start, which included 5 point loss to George Mason (KenPom No. 126). They’ve 4-4 since and their best win of the season came against Florida (KenPom No. 37) on a neutral court.
The Terps won their first Big Ten game of the season on Wednesday on the road at Northwestern (KenPom No. 55). After leading by 6 points in the final 20 seconds, the Wildcats inexplicably tied the score at the end of regulation. It took double overtime but Maryland ended up winning 94-87.
On the season, Maryland is shooting 48.8% from two-point range (206th), 31.8% from three-point range (250th) and 73.1% from the foul line (102nd). They average 71.6 points per game and are allowing opponents to score 68.9 points per contest. In Big Ten play, the Terps are 10th in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Maryland gets to the foul line often, as they are 31st nationally in free attempts to field goal attempts and 2nd in the league in free throw rate. However, they are 13th in Big Ten play in shooting just 67.0% from the charity stripe. In league play behind the arc, the Terps are 3rd at 37.5% and Big Ten opponents are only shooting 29.3% (4th).
A major weakness is ranking 334th nationally in defensive turnover rate at just 15.2%. It’s even lower at 12.1% in Big Ten play, which is 13th.
The guards dictate the action for the Terps behind veterans Eric Ayala and Donta Scott, along with Rhode Island transfer Fatts Russell.
For the season, the Scarlet Knights are averaging 68.9 points per game and allowing 65.5 points per contest.....RU is shooting only 47.6% from two-point range (252nd), 33.3% from three-point range (177th) and 67.2% from the foul line (281st)......They are ranked 6th nationally in assist rate at 63.5% and 70th in turnover rate at 17.1%.......Rutgers is 11th in offensive efficiency and 8th in defensive efficiency in Big Ten play so far this season......RU is shooting a league best 44.0% from three-point range in Big Ten play......They are allowing the second lowest opponent free throw rate in Big Ten play at just 20.7% and have the third highest steal rate at 9.5%.......Rutgers is 8-2 this season when holding opponents under 70 points.....Mawot Mag’s return is possible for this game but his status unclear after missing the past two games due a dental issue.
Steve Pikiell Quote
“This is a really good Maryland team. They have really changed a lot up on us. This is a real tough venue to play at. They have downhill scorers. They are guys that can really attack the rim. They have guys who can score around the basket as good as anyone in the country. They have changed things a lot for us and we have to stay out of foul trouble. They attack you to get you to foul.” - From this week’s Steve Pikiell Podcast Episode Four
Keys To Victory
Rutgers needs to create its own energy on the road in what will likely be a mostly sedated arena similar to the atmosphere at Penn State on Tuesday. This team has to generate some momentum of its own and ensure they start the game off with the necessary intensity to win on the road.
Sticking to the game plan and staying true to their identity is so important as well. They can’t get flustered and so easily thrown off what they want to do like they were against the Nittany Lions. Pikiell admitted in the loss that Rutgers let their frustrations on offense impact their play on the defensive end. This team is ALWAYS better when they let their defense dictate their play. They need to get back to that in this game.
The Scarlet Knights need to get back to what was working in sharing the basketball and finding open shooters. I don’t expect Maryland to play RU as tough defensively as PSU did. They don’t force turnovers much at all and Rutgers should be able to create offense from their willingness to share the game and pass. They can’t settle for jumpers and fall into iso ball if things get sloppy or difficult. Every team faces adversity in conference road games and overcoming it is a major key to actually winning the game.
The toughness of Rutgers has been rightly questioned at times this season. Saturday is a huge opportunity to prove they can be tough both mentally and physically. They need to be the aggressor against a Maryland team that is coming off of a double overtime win just two-plus days ago.
Crashing the boards on both ends of the floor. Contest everything and don’t give up easy looks at the basket. Stop driving lanes and force the Terps into mid-range jumpers. Defending well without fouling is a huge key in this matchup. Maryland gets to the foul line often and also converts well enough that if they dominate the number of free throw attempts, it would become a huge obstacle for RU to get past.
Leaders need lead if Rutgers wants any chance of winning this game. They need to make sure this team starts fast, moves the ball and prioritizes points in the paint including feeding Cliff Omoruyi, as well as taking care of the basketball and looking to score in transition when the chance to do is present. Win and the Scarlet Knights give themselves an opportunity to truly get back into contention the following week. Lose and hope is on life support.
For this key road game, I’ve selected “Wake Me Up” by Foals. It’s a new song from the British band and it has really good energy to it. Similar to what Rutgers needs on Saturday.
The lyric “I’m walking through a dream” sticks out to me in relation to this team needing to wake up and realize those dreams before the season fully gets away from them. They aren’t in a position they expected or hoped to be this season. Winning at Maryland is imperative to getting back on track with a chance to fulfill those expectations. Time to wake up and win on the road against the Terps.