Since the turn of the new year, the Terps have won three conference games in a row and now post a 4-1 Big Ten record. Next up for the Terrapins is an Indiana team ranked No. 22 in the AP Poll.
The Terps and Hoosiers have had some memorable meetings in the past, and we talked to Ben Portnoy, sports editor at the Indiana Daily Student, about what to expect on the court this time around. His answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
The Hoosiers have had a great season so far. Where do you think this team currently ranks in the Big Ten?
I honestly think Indiana is a top-four team in this league. I know they’ve sputtered against Duke and Michigan, but when this squad is fully healthy I believe they have one of the deepest rosters in the country. Also, if they can ever find a scorer outside of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan, watch out.
Indiana has already played the top two teams in the country in the AP Poll (Michigan and Duke). How has that experience already helped this team?
Frankly, the game against Duke was over after 10 minutes, while a slow start doomed Indiana at Michigan. I think the Duke game was more of an anomaly than anything major. However, the Hoosiers played a really strong second half against Michigan and I think there’s a real chance they beat them at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in two weeks. Juwan Morgan couldn’t be stopped in the post and I think this offense is starting to find its identity with his passing ability on the block.
After missing the NCAA tournament in his first season, what are expectations for Archie Miller in his second year at the helm?
I think this year is NCAA tournament or bust. For one, the Hoosiers brought back virtually every important piece from last year’s roster, minus Robert Johnson. Throw in the additions of freshman guard Rob Phinisee and Langford and this team is as talented as any Indiana has had in the past seven or eight years. I think the Sweet 16 is a fair prediction. Whatever happens after that is a crapshoot come March.
Who are the players to watch for Indiana?
Morgan and Langford are this team. The latter leads the squad with 18.2 points per game, but Morgan is no slouch at 16.7 points per contest. The issues that Morgan creates in and around the paint forces defenses to close in on him, giving Langford and others space to operate on the wings. As for Langford, his ability to get to the rim is surreal. He was a top-10 recruit for a reason, and his scoring touch is something to behold. That said, if there’s one fault in his game, his three-point shooting leaves something to de desired, but his stroke is solid.
Finish this sentence. Indiana wins if…
Someone other than Morgan or Langford steps up. Phinisee is still dealing with concussion issues so his availability remains uncertain. Justin Smith has been mostly good over the past few weeks after a terrible game at Duke, and could be a likely candidate to fill that third scorer role. However, don’t be surprised if Morgan continues his dominating form and wills the Hoosiers to a win.
Finish this sentence. Maryland wins if …
They can find anyone to slow down Morgan. This is far easier said than done. No team this season, including Duke and Michigan, has had an answer for him in the post. He’s playing at an All-Big Ten and All-American level right now and is virtually unguardable when he gets going. That said, if Maryland can limit the scoring output to just Morgan and Langford or slow either of the two, the Terps can get the win.