Iowa Basketball: Preview and prediction against Maryland

The Iowa basketball team travels to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins on Thursday. Here’s a preview and prediction.

The No. 5 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2) continue their season on Thursday evening when they face the Maryland Terrapins (6-5) at 6:00 pm CT on ESPN2.

The Hawkeyes are only a five-point favorite over the Terrapins, according to Odds Shark. The over/under is set at 154.5 points.

Luckily for Iowa, Maryland isn’t anywhere near as strong as it was last season, where the two teams split the season series. Additionally, Fran McCaffery’s team won’t have to worry about star forward Jalen Smith, who was selected 10th overall by the Suns in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The Terrapins currently reside in 12th place (out of 14) in the Big Ten with a conference record of 1-4. Iowa is third in the conference (3-1).

So far this season, Maryland has relied heavily on three players; G Eric Ayala, F Donta Scott and G Aaron Wiggins. All three average double-digit points. Ayala leads the team in points per game (14.3), Scott leads in rebounds (7.3) and Wiggins leads in assists (3.1).

“Scott has really taken his game to another level. I’ve always been a big fan of Ayala. I think he’s terrific. Wiggins was really good (against Indiana). Has always been good, one of the better players in our league last year,” said McCaffery on Tuesday.

The Terrapins have struggled to put up big point totals this season. After playing a cupcake schedule over their first four games, Maryland has since gone 2-5 in their last seven contests and have reached 73 points just once. They average 72.6 points per game.

That isn’t a fault of Maryland’s shooting, though. After all, the Terps average 47.4 percent from the floor. Simply put, Maryland likes to slow down the tempo. For comparison’s sake, Iowa averages nearly 93 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting.

Look for Maryland to control the clock in order to keep the game within a few possessions into the second half. The Terps play stingy defense (66.6 ppg), too, so every possession will matter for Iowa.

“They have a lot of versatility, guys that play multiple positions in the 6’7″, 6’6″, 6’8″ range. [They are] long, athletic. They got a lot of different guys that can score. Tough team,” McCaffery later stated.

Maryland vs. Iowa prediction

The Hawkeyes win 83-76. The one thing that could slightly change this is the status of Connor McCaffery. Coach Fran McCaffery said on Tuesday “hopefully” Connor will be able to play. In the end, Iowa’s offense is still too explosive to contain, and Luka Garza is too good to slow down. Could we see Chol Marial (7-foot-2) on Garza at some point? Marial averages just eight minutes a game, but his size could prove vital. This will be a nice test for Iowa against a Big Ten opponent with nothing to really lose at this point.