Who: Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Maryland Terrapins
What: Maryland’s return home after two conference road games
Where: The Comcast Center & The Big Ten Network
When: 7:00 PM Wednesday night

I’m going to do this preview a little differently, because Rutgers is a little different than most of the teams in the Big 10. Namely, they’re a terrible basketball team. Yes, I’m aware like the rest of the world that they just took advantage of a Kaminsky-less Wisconsin team and upset the Badgers. I’m going to go ahead and play the odds and call that one a little bit of home court advantage, mixed with a lot of luck (injury luck, shooting luck, and just general horseshoe-up-their-ass luck).

Outside of Sunday’s shocking upset, the Scarlet Knights have been comfortably reclining on the couch in the Big 10’s basement. At 10-7 with losses to St. Francis (that’s in Pennsylvania) and St. Peter’s (like two blocks down the road from me in Jersey City), even another rabbit out of the hat win for Rutgers still might not put them in the tournament.

So, without further ado, here’s a brief preview of why Maryland should mop the floor with Rutgers on Wednesday:

What To Know About Rutgers:

I’ll get the positive out of the way first, the Scarlet Knights can play a little bit of defense. They’re only allowing 60.6 points per game, third fewest in the Big 10. Part of this can definitely be attributed to how slow they play. In the conference, only Wisconsin has fewer possessions per game than Rutgers’ 63.6.

However, there’s really no caveat to defending the three-point line well. Maryland holds shooters to a 27.8% clip from beyond the arc, and Rutgers is pretty much right there with them at a very respectable 29.9%. Their total field goal percentage defense of 39.8% isn’t as impressive, but defense is certainly not a weakness for this team.

On the other end of the court however, Rutgers is inarguably the worst offensive team in the Big 10. They are the only team in the conference averaging fewer than 60 points per game. They are also the only team shooting worse than 40% from the field as a team. If I told you that they shot under 30% from three, it wouldn’t surprise you, and it shouldn’t because that’s also true.
Therefore, I’m willing to put a little less weight on the 44 points Rutgers scored in the second half against Wisconsin, and a little more weight on the 48.6 points they averaged in their first three Big 10 games.

The offense is heavily reliant on two players: Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack (henceforth Mack ‘n’ Jack). Mack is a 5’10” senior point guard who was really the catalyzing force in Sunday’s upset (21 points on 6/16 shooting). He’s had four games of 20 + points this season, so he’s the main threat. He’s a poor three-point shooter this year (30.9%), but was much better last year at 37%. If Rutgers sticks around for a while in this one, it will likely be because Mack is having a big game.

Jack is a 6’9” power forward from Queens who has a similar story: struggled in 2014, but showed promise in 2013. If the Jack who’s shooting 39% from the field, while simultaneously attempting to expand his game beyond the arc (9/29, 31%) shows up, Mark Turgeon will be flat out thrilled. On the other hand, there was a version of Jack from last season that shot over 50% from the floor while only taking three 3’s all season. He’s obviously much more dangerous.

What To Know About Maryland

What you need to know is that if they lose, I should probably stop writing these things, because it would mean I truly have no idea what I’m talking about. Even with Rutgers’ recent win over Wisconsin, I would say a road game at Rutgers would be one of Maryland’s easiest games left on the schedule. Considering, this is a home game at the Comcast Center, this should be an absolute walkover. Keep the turnovers in check, get to the free throw line, and take care of business.

I would like to see the offense get back into the kind of sync they were in at Oklahoma State and versus Iowa State. With all of the shooters on this team, the ideal attack for Maryland would involve some impressive assist totals and point totals routinely north of 75. The Terps haven’t eclipsed that total since a win over Winthrop eight games ago, and they have yet to shoot even 45% from the field in conference play. Wednesday seems like a logical time for both of these streaks to end. Oh, and Maryland has been outrebounded the last two games, which actually might be the more worrisome streak if it continues.


Maryland – 75, Rutgers – 63

Maryland is undefeated at home, and there’s no reason to expect that to change. I can’t see Turgeon allowing them to overlook this game because of the looming Michigan State rematch. Terps by 10+.