COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland returns home on Saturday afternoon to face Ohio State at noon at XFINITY Center in College Park.
Here are five things you need to know about the matchup.
1) Time to bounce back
Maryland’s loss to Michigan on the road Tuesday isn’t the end of the road. It shouldn’t really be considered a “bad” loss. But not bouncing back at home would.
Maryland is one of five teams in the current Top 10 that has lost this week -- and Saturday games haven’t even been played. Kansas, Michigan State, Duke, and Miami all suffered similar fates, and all on the road except for Iowa’s dismantling of Sparty in East Lansing.
Mark Turgeon put it best on Friday. “Life goes on,” he said. No one expected Maryland to go undefeated in the conference, but they do have a legitimate shot to again be undefeated at home in the conference. Beating Ohio State is the next step in that process.
2) Thankfully, no D’Angelo Russell
Before he became the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, D’Angelo Russell put in serious work against Maryland last season. He posted 18 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists to look like the far superior point guard of two superb freshmen last season -- himself and Melo Trimble.
Now he’s part of the Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour with the Lakers, so Maryland won’t so much need to worry about him. That doesn’t mean that they’re out of the woods yet, though.
JaQuan Lyle is the next talented guard in line at Columbus, averaging 14.8 points and 7.4 assists per game. The key defensively for Maryland is that if he’s going to put up big numbers, make him inefficient while he’s doing it.
Lyle only shoots 40 percent from the floor and 27 percent from three-point range on over four attempts per game.
The Buckeyes have had their ups and downs so far this season, with strong games like a big victory over Kentucky and head-scratching losses to Louisiana Tech and UT-Arlington. For the Buckeyes, defense is not the problem.
Ohio State ranks 21st in the country in defensive efficiency. The struggles have come when the offense dries up. The Buckeyes average just 1.01 points per possession, 151st in the nation.
For Maryland, that means the focus has to be on getting stops defensively and then pushing the pace the other way, which should spark the offense on the other end of the floor.
4) What about the bench?
Turgeon said that he will stick with the Diamond-Stone-as-sixth-man gameplan that has been so effective this season, though that may change at some point. If Stone weren’t there to buoy the bench, though, what would Maryland have?
Jared Nickens is in the worst shooting slump of his career. He is 4-of-30 from three-point range over the past six games. Michal Cekovsky played sparingly against Michigan because he wasn’t producing where Maryland needs him -- defending and rebounding. And Turgeon opted to put former walk-on guard Varun Ram into the game over Jaylen Brantley for defensive reasons against the Wolverines.
Outside of Stone, everyone on the bench has a very specific talent and skill set. If each produces in that area, Maryland will be fine. If the struggles continue, so will the questions.
5) Home-court advantage?
Maryland has been terrific over the past two seasons at home. This year, Turgeon has over and over again given credit to the fans in attendance for giving Maryland the extra boost it has needed to be pushed over the top in a few games -- Rider, Georgetown, Penn State, etc.
Saturday presents an interesting case. Noon is a tough start time. Energy can be low. Ohio State plays good defense and ranks 198th in the country in average possessions per game. If Maryland slips into that slow pace, things can get sleepy.
It would benefit the Terrapins to get out with energy early, dictate the pace, and take control from the start.