Previewing the No. 17 Maryland Terrapins
A tough gauntlet of conference matchups continues for the Wisconsin Badgers as they host the No. 17 Maryland Terrapins inside the Kohl Center on Tuesday night.
Maryland (13-3 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) started off 2020 on the right foot with home victories over Indiana and Ohio State on Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, respectively. However, the Terps fell in Iowa City last Friday in a lopsided 67-49 loss to the Hawkeyes. Mark Turgeon's team shot only 32.7% from the field -- 18.2% from three-point range -- and only made 55% of their free throws (11 of 20).
After a key road win at Happy Valley against previously ranked Penn State on Saturday, Wisconsin (10-6, 3-2) hopes to utilize home court cooking to its advantage. After Tuesday night's contest, head coach Greg Gard and his program head to East Lansing later this week for a matchup against No. 15 Michigan State.
AllBadgers.com presents some key stats and players to watch from Maryland, along with insights from assistant coach Dean Oliver, forward Micah Potter and guard Kobe King.
- Rankings: No. 17 (AP)
- KenPom ranking: No. 11 (No. 40 offensive adj. efficiency, No. 8 defensive adj. efficiency)
Wisconsin has contained its turnovers to 10 or less in the last three Big Ten contests, and For that matter, has done so in seven of its last nine games dating back to the Dec. 4 matchup at N.C. State. However, the Terps could present challenges on Tuesday.
"I think Maryland with their length, with the shot blocking ability, we've got to be smart when we get in there," Oliver said, "because they could potentially cause some turnovers or tough shots -- which are the same as turnovers -- or block some shots and get out in transition. So that's going to be crucial for us to continue that to win this next ballgame."
Along with blocking shots, Oliver also pointed to Maryland's ability to guard the ball in one-on-one matchups to help them claim a Top 10 defense according to KenPom ranking.
"It's hard to go by them one-on-one," Oliver said. "They have good on-ball defenders who take pride in stopping the guy that's in front of them and not relying on help. But when you get to the paint, you've got to be smart because I'm telling you, 'Stix' (Jalen Smith) can jump with anybody. Then they bring in a 7'2 guy (freshman center Chol Marial) who can do just the same. So it's going to be a classic Big Ten battle, and we better play smart."
Points Per Game
Field Goal Percentage
Free Throw Percentage
Rebounds Per Game
Assists Per Game
Turnovers Per Game
Steals Per Game
Blocks Per Game
Players to Watch
Senior guard Anthony Cowan, Jr. leads the way for the Terps in scoring at 16.2 points per game, which is also good for fifth in the Big Ten as of Monday. Through 16 games, all starts, he has drained 38.8% of his attempts from the field and 34.4% from three-point range. However, he also places in the top five of the Big Ten in assists per game (4.1).
"Cowan's so dangerous, especially in transition," Oliver said. "The amount of ball screens they set for him and the amount of opportunities that he gets with the ball in his hands, he's hard to stop.
"It's a high volume guy. You almost got to live with some of the shots he's going to get off and some of the plays he's going to make, but just try to make it difficult for him all night long. He's a handful, and they got some guys to go with them."
During media availability on Monday evening, King called out Cowan's cunning ability to make plays around the paint.
"He's been around for a long time, just the way he gets to the line," King said. "You can tell by his free throw numbers how crafty he is around the rim, crafty he is coming off screens. You're never going to be able to guard him perfectly, but I think we just got to be able to contain him and obviously help because it's not a one-man job, especially with a guard like that."
In the front court, forward Jalen Smith averages nearly a double-double when he steps out on the floor at 13.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game -- the latter stat good for fifth in the Big Ten. Smith also ranks third in the conference in blocks at 2.25 blocks per outing.
Over three of Smith's boards per game come off the offensive glass, and like what Wisconsin accomplished against Penn State on Saturday, the Badgers' big men will have to contain the talented Terp. However, as forward Micah Potter noted on Monday afternoon, he is a completely different player than Nittany Lions big man Mike Watkins.
"He's very active. He likes to run up and down the floor. He can shoot the ball at a high level," Potter said about Smith. "He can put the ball on the floor a little bit. Also, when he catches the ball on the block, he likes to face up. Mike Watkins is more of like a banger-type guy.
"So the big thing with 'Stix' is just making sure we're keeping him uncomfortable because guys who are super athletic and long like that, even more so, you want to keep them uncomfortable. Whether it's keeping an arm on him, being physical with him without fouling, keeping him uncomfortable is huge because if you can take them out of there -- like jump shooters -- if you can take them out of rhythm, you take them out of their game completely. So a guy like that, you just want to be physical without fouling and play smart and play hard."
The backcourt boasts some returning talent that Wisconsin will have to keep tabs on. Aaron Wiggins, a 6'6 sophomore guard from Greensboro, N.C., averages 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game on 35% shooting in 16 starts. Sophomore Eric Ayala and junior Darryl Morsell also contribute 9.4 and 8.6 points per contest, respectively, for Maryland.
Ayala previously hurt Wisconsin last season during a Feb. 1 clash inside the Kohl Center, scoring 18 points and connecting on four of five three-point attempts. King recalled the 6'5 guard's big game but also noted the other pieces to Maryland's offensive puzzle.
"I know Cowan, we got to find a way to contain him as we've always had to. He kind of hit a dagger on us last year at Maryland, so kind of find a way to contain him," King said on Monday. "Then obviously guys like Aaron Wiggins and guys like Morsell and Jalen Smith, who've been here for a couple years, we got to find a way to maintain them and not let one of them get going. Because after watching all those guys over the last couple years, if you let one of them get going, they can kind of really fill it up. So just kind of not letting them get confident and taking away easy, open looks in transition I think will be the key."