Maryland Terrapins vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers: Keys to victory

College Park — A day after Dr. Rod Walters released his findings from his team’s investigation of the Jordan McNair incident, the Terps open up their conference schedule against Minnesota. Once again the Terps will have to look past the emotional distractions and find a way to show up and play football.

The undefeated Gophers are 3-0 with convincing wins in two-out-of-three victories. The Gophers bring a mediocre 83rd ranked offense to College Park led by true freshman walk-on Zack Annexstad. Minnesota also has the 19th overall defense led by linebacker Blake Cashman who to leads the team with 21 total tackles.

Keys to victory:

  1. Commit to the run game: The Terps boast the 27th overall rushing offense and only ran for 132 yards on 31 carries against Temple. When the best weapon you have on offense is the run game, 31 carries is not a commitment. Coach Matt Canada must commit to running the ball in order for the Terps offense to be successful. A strong running game will also open up the passing game. The Maryland running back group is one of the nations deepest and most talented, led by senior Ty Johnson who has only 29 carries on the season but is averaging 6.1 yards when he touches the ball. As a team the Terps are averaging 5.5 yards per attempt, which ranks 27th in the nation.
  2. Start Fast: In the last two contests the Terps have looked flat, lethargic, and the scores showed that. Although injuries were a factor in last weeks 31-14 loss against the Owls. The Terps still allowed a mediocre team to come into College Park and spoil their home opener.  In week two against Bowling Green the Terps were down 10-14 at halftime before waking up and completely dominating the second half by racking up 444 yards on the ground. Maryland would go on to win that game 44-14. Whatever half time speech Coach Canada gave in Bowling Green needs to be incorporated in every pregame. A fire needs to be lit under these men.
  3. Bring the pressure: With the true freshman under center the Terps need to dial up the pass rush. If Maryland can get pressure on Annexstad,  he will be more prone to mistakes. However the walk on quarterback has yet to throw an interception in 79 attempts this season. He has also been relatively unscathed with the Minnesota offensive line allowing just four sacks through three games. The Terps really need to see this “revamped” defensive line take over and dominate like they did against Bowling Green. Defensive Coordinator Andy Buh needs to bring the pressure something the Terps defense has struggled with for the past few years.

Opinion: We have no idea which Terps team will show up today in College Park. Will it be the team that upset the 23rd ranked team in the nation? Or will it be the team that laid an egg at home against a mediocre Temple Owls team? The Terps should win this game at home, but they should have won last week. With NFL talent offensive tackles Damian Prince and Derwin Gray returning this week, a commitment to the run game will put this team in position to win the game. Coach Canada need to see some solid quarterback play from Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome, or be prepared to move away from the dual quarterback system. To put it simply, the Terps cannot afford poor quarterback play today in a highly winnable game.

Prediction: Terps win 24-17

Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

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Maryland bounced from Big Ten tournament early after 59-54 loss to Wisconsin

Coming off of an embarrassing loss to Michigan on senior day, the Maryland Terrapins were tasked with winning four games in four consecutive days if they wanted to make it back to the NCAA tournament for the fourth year in a row.

As the #9 seed in the Big Ten, Maryland was set to face off against Wisconsin on Thursday. When these teams met earlier in the year, the Terps were able to walk away with a 68-63 win. The Terps looked to do the same on Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Mark Turgeon’s team played with a lot of energy and speed for almost the entire forty minutes but in the end, the Badgers picked up the crucial baskets in crunch time to secure a 59-54 win and a date with Michigan State on Friday.

Depth concerns have circled around Maryland for months now. In that time, a lot of close games have been lost by the Terps and changes clearly needed to be made if they were going to turn things around. The teams scoring leaders, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter, helped with this by stepping out of the spotlight in a few games down the stretch. However, with their season on the line, the two knew they had to show up on Thursday in order to get the Terps into the next round.

Cowan and Huerter jump started the Terps offense by being involved in the teams first 16 points. Through the first 12 minutes of play, the sophomore duo either scored or assisted every Maryland basket. As the game continued the two would not shy away from their leadership roles. Cowan scored 16 and was dominate in transition, helping to keep the Terps on pace with the Badgers. Huerter led the team with 20 points while shooting 8-15 from the field.

To give you an idea of what kind of game this was, consider this. Both teams combined to make just five three pointers in the entire game but didn’t seem too concerned with that. Transition play and rebounding were the real keys to each teams success. As expected, Ethan Happ gave Maryland some trouble under the basket. The junior forward led the Badgers with 14 points and seven rebounds.

After holding a 28-26 advantage at halftime, the Badgers were able to hold on to their lead by getting to the foul line. Wisconsin went 20-24 at the line while the Terps only had nine opportunities for free points. Throw in a 12-7 turnover disadvantage and you can see what led to the Terps downfall.

Despite this, Maryland was right in the game right up until the final seconds expired off the clock. With under 10 seconds to play, Huerter tried driving to the rim for the tying score but ended up getting fouled in the process. The Terps needed him to sink two but an extended stoppage in play before the shot attempts seemed to bother Huerter as he missed the front half of the free throws.

The Badgers spent a lot of time changing player positions in the paint prior to the free throw attempts and the refs allowed them to do so while Huerter was forced to stand their and wait. Before taking the first shot, cameras showed the sophomore clapping and asking the ref for the ball with a frustrated look on his face.

After this miss, the Badgers were able to sink their free throws and take a three-point lead before forcing a turnover and putting the game on ice. This marks the fourth time in the past eight years that the Terps have missed the NCAA tournament. They have also only made the NIT once under Mark Turgeon. Their future is still up in the air after failing to finish above .500 in conference play and then making an early exit from the Big Ten tourney.

We will be here for any potential games left this season for the Maryland Terrapins. Thank you for reading and following the team with us. Lets hope for a more exciting and injury free season in 2018-19.

Image credit: Mary Altaffer / AP

Maryland captures elusive road win by taking down Northwestern 71-64

It was not pretty and the second half certainly wasn’t clean, but in the end the Maryland Terrapins pulled out their second road win of the season by taking down Northwestern 71-64.

With these two teams meeting just nine days ago, there was some familiarity when they stepped on the court Monday night. The Wildcats were coming off of a devastating loss to Michigan State in which they lead the Spartans by 27 but still managed to lose 65-60. Maryland, on the other hand, has enjoyed a decent amount of success in recent games while winning three of their last five.

The Terrapins shot over 50% from the field in Monday’s win over Northwestern but got a great deal of offensive production from some players who usually remain quiet. Michael Cekovsky has not started much since returning from injury but still provides the team with a nice boost off of the bench.

It’s not often that Maryland has an advantage under the basket but Cekovsky didn’t waste anytime using that to his benefit when he came off the bench in the first half. The 7-foot-6-inch senior dominated the rim with three dunks and four rebounds in the first half.

Dion Wiley also came through with one of his more flashy performances of the year. Mark Turgeon has given Wiley an opportunity to start a lot of games over the past few weeks but he has stuck to his role as a facilitator for the most part. On Monday, the junior from Oxon Hill dropped 13 while adding three rebounds and a pair of steals.

Kevin Huerter would finish with 18 points and four assists to lead the Maryland offense. He was also responsible for three of the Terrapins five three pointers in the game. It was interesting to see Maryland shy away from the deep shots especially in the first half when the Wildcats were flourishing from beyond the arc. Chris Collins’ team shot 15 three pointers in the first half and managed to sink eight of them to take a 37-30 lead at the break.

However, that previously mentioned height difference between each teams big men helped the Terps keep pace with Northwestern early and eventually pull away. I am also a little surprised with just how fast the Terps played at points, especially in the second half. With the regular season coming to a close, I would have guessed that most of the team would be drained from playing extended minutes all year. Instead, Maryland did a lot of their scoring in transition and appeared to fluster the Wildcats down the stretch.

Maryland’s 41 point second half was fun to watch mainly because of their consistency. There were no scoring droughts as the Terps spent the full 20 minuets battling to either get even or hold on to a slim lead. Just like their game against Rutgers on Saturday, Maryland did a good job of closing the game out with a lead as well. Northwestern started intentionally fouling a little earlier than expected and the Terrapins took advantage by going 6-6 from the line to put the game on ice.

This second road win has been a long time coming for the Terps. There have been a lot of close calls since they took down Illinois in overtime earlier this season but they could never quiet get it done. I was happy to see Maryland thrive away from home but I can’t help but think about Northwestern’s arena situation.

The Wildcats have been relocated to the Allstate Arena this season while their normal home gets renovated. This has resulted in a lack of home court advantage for Northwestern. Just look at this picture of their student section from tonight’s game. None the less, the Terps found a win outside of the Xfinity Center and that all that matters.

Maryland will honor their senior players this Saturday as Michigan makes a trip to College Park. Big wins have eluded the Terps all season but they will get one more crack at it as the Wolverines are currently sitting at No. 17 in the AP rankings.

Image credit: Jim Young / AP