Maryland faces Indiana in the regular-season finale on Sunday in Bloomington. Here are 5 things you need to know about the 4:30 p.m. matchup.
1) Longer-term gains
Maryland has a certain level of security heading into this game, being that they’ve already locked up a double bye in the Big Ten tournament. Now it is about trying to gain some ground back from other contenders as they jockey for position in the NCAA tournament.
A win over Indiana would give the Terrapins another quality road win, plus RPI Top 25 and RPI Top 50 wins. If they can string a win Sunday together with at least two in the Big Ten tournament, that NCAA seed could rise from where it is now, No. 4, to a No. 3 or even a No. 2 if someone else has a major hiccup.
2) Melo vs. Yogi (again)
Melo Trimble broke out of his slump on Thursday with an 18-point game against Illinois. Now he faces his closest counterpart in the Big Ten. Ferrell is playing at an All-Big Ten level this season and Trimble will have to try to match on Sunday.
Don’t expect Trimble to be defending Ferrell, though. That will be the responsibility of fellow guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who has been one of the team’s best perimeter defenders all season.
3) Small-ball necessity
Maryland tested its small ball lineup extensively for the first time on Thursday and found great success with it. That was a trial run and an adjustment, but on Sunday they will likely have to play it out of necessity.
Indiana is fifth in the nation in three-point shooting at 42 percent and No. 1 in the country in offensive efficiency at 1.169 points per possession. They accomplish that by spreading the floor and making the defense react.
So expect a lot of Jake Layman at the power forward spot to counter what the Hoosiers do. Maryland will need to hit shots if it wants to keep pace. They’ve already seen what can happen in Bloomington if the Hoosiers get hot.
4) Battle of the freshman bigs
While everyone will be concerned about small ball, don’t forget the battle of two of the best freshman bigs in the country -- Maryland’s Diamond Stone and Indiana’s Thomas Bryant.
Bryant has takent significant strides offensively this season and has been a major factor for a team that lacked an interior presence last season.
It will be interesting to see how Stone bounces back after playing limited minutes against Illinois when small ball took over and he stayed on the bench for much of the second half.
5) Telling the truth on the boards
Illinois, on paper, looked like a step in the right direction toward fixing Maryland’s rebounding woes. The problem is, the Illini came into the game ranked 321st nationally in rebound percentage and were much less interested in crashing the boards than they were about getting back defensively in hopes of stifling Maryland’s transition game.
The Terrapins will get a much truer test of where they are on Sunday against Indiana. The Hoosiers rank 16th in the country in rebound rate, led by forward Troy Williams.
That was Maryland’s biggest issue against Purdue when it came to rebounding. It wasn’t A.J. Hammons or Isaac Haas who burned them. It was Vince Edwards and Raphael Davis on the wings.
First-possession defense is typically not an issue for Maryland. Give Indiana second chances, though, and they’ll burn you.