For the second week in a row, a ranked team enters Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Will Maryland suffer the same fate as Purdue?
Probably not. But maybe! While I don’t think Maryland is better than Purdue by any stretch, the Terps are playing some decent basketball right now and pose some interesting matchups against Iowa. Peter Jok’s health status also has me a little worried, but this certainly is a winnable game for the Hawkeyes.
Maryland also comes off a win against Indiana, so they’ve gone toe-to-toe with the Big Ten’s best as well, which isn’t really saying much. In any case, a win over Maryland would be great validation for an Iowa team that just got drubbed in Evanston. Man, that game was gross.
Anyway, let’s talk about this matchup:
Get to know the Terps
Maryland is 16-2 and somehow only ranked No. 25—their best win is probably against Kansas State, and they’ve suffered losses to Pitt and Nebraska—I get it but still.
While Maryland no longer has the interior presence of Jake Layman or Diamond Stone, they still have Melo Trimble, and he’s still damn good.
Melo Trimble made Juwan Morgan take a seat pic.twitter.com/ZdMYnQqm6A— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) January 11, 2017
Trimble is averaging 17 a game and shooting three’s at a 34 percent clip. While he’s shaking defenders out of their pants, Maryland still has some scorers Iowa needs to be aware of.
Freshman Anthony Cowan has emerged as Maryland’s second-best player, and is good for knocking down 11 a night. He leads the Terps in assists (3.6) and is shooting his field goals at a 47 percent clip. When we talk about the best freshman in the B1G, Cowan has to be in the conversation.
Anthony Cowan want ball, Anthony Cowan take ball pic.twitter.com/xZBjizrSpp— Jason Dobkin (@jasondobkin) January 11, 2017
Maryland’s big men are also led by a greenhorn, with 6-7 forward Justin Jackson leading the way in the paint. He’s averaging 10 points and 6 boards a night, and will be the one challenging Iowa’s bigs. I would say I like our odds after taking it to Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan, but the showing in Evanston has me questioning everything.
On paper, Maryland isn’t really all that great. They’re no. 48 overall on KenPom, and 84th in Adjusted offense. (Iowa is ranked 86th overall, and has an AdjO of 65.) Maryland’s much stronger on the defensive end, coming in at No. 38 in AdjD. (Iowa is 139.)
What Iowa has to do to win
As with any time Iowa takes the court, the Hawkeyes need Peter Jok to do Peter Jok things. He’s still leading the conference in scoring after a 4-point showing against jNW, which is pretty ridiculous. Another 20+ point performance from him here is crucial.
After that, I sort of see this game coming down to guard play. Jordan Bohannon didn’t have the best game against Northwestern either, but the arrow is definitely pointing up on him. Another big game from Isaiah Moss would be cool too.
Tyler Cook is starting to heat back up after getting off to a slow start in conference play, and I can see him dominating the paint in this one. This Maryland lineup is pretty small with the exception of Damonte Dodd, who’s coming off an injury himself.
Dodd is pretty easy to goad in to dumb fouls, which is where Cordell Pemsl comes in. Pemsl played just 13 minutes in the Northwestern game, so he might be suffering some sort of injury along with Jok. It looked like he hurt his back pretty good against Purdue, so we’ll see how lingering that is here tonight.
Prediction: This whole game is about whether or not Jok is at 100 or even 70 percent. If he can play 30 minutes or so of good production, then Iowa should be in this one the whole time. If Jok isn’t there, neither is Iowa. This isn’t the same Maryland team that went to the Sweet 16 last year, but things seem to be coming together for the Terps.
Maryland 91, Iowa 87.