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Maryland-Iowa Preview: 5 things you need to know

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Maryland-Iowa Preview: 5 things you need to know

No. 8 Maryland faces No. 3 Iowa in the first matchup between Top 10 teams ever at XFINITY Center. Not only that, but it could go a long way toward shaping the race in the Big Ten.

Here are five things you need to know.

1) What Thursday night’s game decides

Head coach Mark Turgeon said he won’t call a January game a “must-win” and in certain ways he is right. This is an NCAA tournament team (obviously) and a Big Ten title contender and, yes, still a national title contender in a wide open field.

But games like Thursday’s showdown shape NCAA tournament resumes.

How? Maryland has a number of nice wins, like against Georgetown at home, Connecticut on a neutral floor, and Wisconsin on the road. But what about signature wins? Winning Top 10 matchups are the games that separate No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from No. 3 seeds and No. 4 seeds.

Maryland has no bad losses, but it also has not gotten signature wins on the road against North Carolina and Michigan State. Thursday is a big opportunity to make a national statement.

2) Back home

Maryland has not lost a game in College Park since joining the Big Ten. Coming back home after a road loss to Michigan State, the Terrapins will be greeted by the return of students on campus -- who have now returned to classes.

That should make for a raucous environment in what is obviously a big game.

Turgeon said Wednesday that it was clear the crowd at Michigan State gave the Spartans a bump. Terrapins fans have aided in comebacks against Penn State and Rider earlier this year. Against the Hawkeyes, making the arena hostile for the opposition will help.

MORE TERPS: MAYBE NOT 'MUST WIN' -- BUT STILL IMPORTANT

3) Jarrod Uthoff’s ascent continues

Jarrod Uthoff has gone from Iowa’s best player to the possible Big Ten Player of the Year to a legitimate contender for National Player of the Year.

He is averaging 18.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from three. He has scored in double digits in every game this season and is a true inside-out threat. Put a smaller defender on him and he will go into the post. Put a bigger defender on him and he will make you chase him around the perimeter.

Which leads to the next point...

4) Defensive responsibilities fall to Layman and Carter

Jake Layman and Robert Carter, Jr. will be the two most important pieces of the overall game plan for Maryland. Uthoff and Peter Jok are the offensive engines for Iowa and they will likely be the responsibility of Carter and Layman, respectively.

This has been Maryland’s weakness -- playing small lineups when they have so much size. They can play small, but not for extended time because of the lack of backcourt depth. That is why Carter and Layman will be relied upon to slow down Iowa’s two best offensive weapons. They have the size, but still the versatility to play against the Hawkeyes’ varying lineups.

5) Finish. Possessions.

Maryland has played good enough defense over the last two games, but struggled often to finish possessions by getting a defensive rebound. It was the dagger late against Michigan State. It was part of the reason that the Northwestern game went to overtime.

Against a team like Iowa, which ranks 12th in the nation in offensive efficiency, giving the Hawkeyes more chances to score could be deadly. Not only does it get reflected on the scoreboard, but 30 seconds of defense can be wasted, forcing another 30 seconds of defense and risking fouls and fatigue.

Over the course of 40 minutes, that takes its toll.

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Huerter, the newest Hawk, introduced in Atlanta

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Huerter, the newest Hawk, introduced in Atlanta

It was just months ago that Maryland sophomore Kevin Huerter was a sure lock to return for the 2018-2019 season in College Park. 

At some point during the offseason, the 19-year-old changed his mind and decided to test his luck and enter the 2018 NBA Draft. 

After a solid performance at the Combine, Huerter began to soar up draft projection boards. 

Fast forward to the night of the Draft on June 21 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

The Clifton Park, N.Y. native declined an invite to instead be with his family, friends and former teammates at a local country club. 

After watching 18 players get their names called by Commisioner Adam Silver, this happened: 

This viral video had the 518 (Albany, N.Y. area code) basketball community buzzing about the kid who brought Shenendehowa High School its first state championship since 1987. 

Huerter enjoyed outreach from many different names throughout the sports community: 

On Monday, Huerter was officially introduced as the newest Atlanta Hawk. His father, Tom Huerter, documented part of the special day on Twitter: 

In other news, if you don't see Kevin Huerter in Summer League, don't worry. Earlier this month, Huerter learned he needed to repair torn ligaments in his right shooting hand in order to be fully ready for the start of camp. 

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk expressed his confidence in a full recovery for Huerter during the introductory press conference Monday. 

Clearly the organization is in the middle of a massive rebuild, and it's hoping that newcomers Kevin Huerter, Trae Young and Omari Spellman will be at the center of it. 

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NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

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USA Today Sports

NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

Maryland basketball had two players drafted in one night for the second time in three years Thursday night when the Denver Nuggets picked Justin Jackson with the No. 43 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Jackson was subsequently traded to the Orlando Magic as part of a deal that brought the No. 41 overall pick, Kentucky's Jarred Vanderbilt, to Denver.

After his freshman season, in which he averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc, Jackson declared for the draft without an agent, but elected to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. But he'd play just 11 games before being shutdown for the year with a torn labrum. His draft stock was hurt, but obviously not totally erased.

He had surgery in January and ended up being the first Terp to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft back in March. Though Jackson's recovery kept him out of the NBA Combine, teams were still intrigued by what they'd seen from him in the past to be willing to take a flyer.

A 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Jackson has the skill to play anywhere between the two or the four in the NBA, and the length to guard all kinds of players.

With Kevin Huerter headed to the last-place Atlanta Hawks, Maryland basketball's two draftees are slated to join last season's two worst teams in the Eastern Conference.