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Maryland basketball vs. Northwestern preview: Terps play 1st of 2 tough road games

Northwestern still hasn t made an NCAA Tournament appearance, but that s a fact that won t be true much longer. The team that welcomes Maryland to Welsh-Ryan Arena Wednesday night is off to the best start in school history, and a tournament bid for the Wildcats is all but assured. For the Terrapins, this marks the first half of a hard week. First a trip to Evanston, then a journey to Madison to play Wisconsin on Saturday. This is as tough a challenge as Maryland will face all regular season.

The Wildcats took care of business against Wisconsin on Sunday, beating the Badgers 64-56 in what our friends at InsideNU called the biggest in program history. [1] They ll reportedly[2] be without leading scorer Scottie Lindsey, who has missed three straight games with mono.

Northwestern Wildcats (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten)

2015-16 record: 20-12

Head coach: Chris Collins, who s 68-54 in his four seasons as Northwestern s head coach. This is his first head coaching job.

KenPom ranking: 31 (Maryland is 36).

Players to watch

Bryant McIntosh, guard, junior, 6 3/185, No. 30. With Lindsey out, McIntosh becomes Northwestern s best offensive option. His 14 points per game are second on the team behind Lindsey, and he dishes out 5.6 assists per game.

Vic Law, forward, RS sophomore, 6 7/205, No. 4. Law missed all of last season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, and he s come back with a vengeance. The forward is averaging 13.5 points per game with six rebounds. He also has the second-best three-point shooting percentage (43) on the team.

Dererk Pardon, center, sophomore, 6 8/235, No. 5. Pardon had an excellent freshman year, but he missed five weeks of this season after getting surgery on his right wrist. He s averaged 10 points in limited action, down from 16 last season, but his rebounding average went up slightly from 10.1 to 10.8. He s getting back into shape, and should be trouble for Maryland down low.

Strengths

Ball security. Northwestern is one of the best teams in the country at not turning the ball over. The Wildcats turnover rate is 15.7 percent, good enough for 17th in the nation.

Defense. Their opponents have an effective shooting percentage of 44, which is ninth in the nation. Their adjusted defensive efficiency is 26th on KenPom.

Weaknesses

Shooting. Northwestern has only the 203rd-best effective shooting percentage in the country, and only the No. 235 two-point shooting percentage. Only two players in the regular rotatoin are shooting 36 percent or above from downtown.

Getting to the free-throw line. The Wildcats are 290th in free throws per field goal attempt, meaning they don t get to the stripe very often. They do convert a high rate when they get fouled, though. At 77 percent, Northwestern is the 14th-best free throw-shooting team in the country.

Predictions

KenPom s prediction: Northwestern 70, Maryland 65. Terps have a 32 percent chance of winning.

Ryan s prediction: Northwestern 73, Maryland 62.

References

  1. ^ the biggest in program history. (www.insidenu.com)
  2. ^ reportedly (www.insidenu.com)

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