Preview: Maryland basketball eyes a B1G upset vs. No. 3 Purdue

Maryland basketball (12-6, 3-4 Big Ten) tied the season series against the Michigan Wolverines (10-8, 4-3 Big Ten) Thursday night in a 64-58 victory that showed what the Terps can be under head coach Kevin Willard.

Now this team is going up against arguably the most dominant center in college basketball. Zach Edey is averaging 21.3 points and 13 rebounds per game for a No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (18-1, 7-1 Big Ten) team that has won their last five straight games. Edey is an excellent post passer which helps create opportunities for his teammates to score.

Teams have to be aware of him on the floor defensively and offensively, he allows the Boilermakers to do so much off of the pick-and-roll action.

Head coach Matt Painter has this team playing like a well-oiled machine. What you notice right away when you watch them play is they’re excellent at moving without the basketball in the half-court, and they pass the ball exceptionally well.

Fletcher Loyer (13.1 ppg, 36. 8 percent shooter from the perimeter) is a sharpshooter from behind the three-point line. He can drive to the basket and create his own shot as well. The Terps will have to be aware of him in those clutch situations if they find themselves in a tight game down the stretch.

Freshman guard Braden Smith is a playmaker in his own right. He leads the team in three-point shooting percentage and is another guy who can hurt the opposing team when driving to the basket. Look for him to be a factor in this game.

After the win over Michigan, Willard spoke about the team’s ability to handle adversity at length when asked about trends he saw in losses compared to the wins this season.

“I think it’s very easy to look at it and say, you’re struggling. You’re struggling. But I’ve been around this so long and my job is to make sure that they understand that sometimes when you go through a schedule, like when we got blown out against UCLA, that was my fault. That wasn’t the team’s fault,” “That was bad scheduling. The schedule can dictate how you play, and I think we’ve had bad spells, but these guys haven’t changed. They still have worked hard, and their attitude… Their attitude has been unbelievable. We got back from Iowa, we had the best two-and-a-half-hour practice we’ve ever had.”

After that practice, Willard told the staff that the Terps’ were going to beat Michigan. He wants to build the program up to win championships in the long term, not just one year. He added that you can’t label a team that’s played four tough road games as a bad team. As a coach, it’s about the whole picture, not just one piece.

Willard left the Iowa game feeling good because he knew that the Terps’ are a good basketball team and are starting to learn how to win on the road even though they haven’t done it consistently yet.

Hunter Dickinson dominated the Terps when the two teams played in Ann Arbor, MI., on New Year’s Day, and he still got his numbers in College Park with a 19-point and 10-rebound performance.

During the game, you could see that the Terps’ were much more aggressive on the boards, defensively, and scoring points in the paint. They won the points in the paint and fast break point battles 42-22 and 14-2, respectively, and had a comfortable lead for most of the first half, with the Xfinity Center crowd making noise during that stretch.

Michigan kept the game close in the second half, which was to be expected after halftime adjustments made by Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard and the staff.

Jahmir Young was phenomenal, as he has been all season. He finished with 26 points, three rebounds, and three steals. Hakim Hart scored 10 points and secured five rebounds, while Donta Scott and Julian Reese combined for 17 rebounds and 15 points.

Hopefully, Maryland basketball can have that same intensity on the road in a hostile environment at Mackey Arena. They will take on Purdue Sunday at 1 p.m. on FS1.

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