It’s the first Big Ten matchup of the year for the Illini as they head to College Park to take on Maryland
During the preseason, very few would have expected this to be a primetime game in the Big Ten. While the Illini entered the season in the Top 25 with high expectations, things were different for Maryland. After Mark Turgeon stepped down last season, they hired former Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard. Despite the new coach and some roster turnover, the Terrapins have come into the season flying with a 7-0 record. They haven’t played an opponent to the caliber of this Illini squad, but they should be prepared with a coach like Willard. This will be an excellent matchup between two of the best in the conference.
Projected Starting Lineups
- G Jahmir Young (6-foot-1) (Charlotte transfer) (15/4/5/3 vs. Louisville)
- G Donald Carey (6-foot-5) (Georgetown transfer)
- F Donta Scott (6-foot-8) (25 pts vs. SLU, 24 pts vs. MIA)
- F Hakim Hart (6-foot-8) (115+ offensive rating in every game, per KP)
- F Julian Reese (6-foot-9) (24 offensive rebounds this season)
Three returning players are in their projected lineup – Scott, Hart, and Reese. They brought in two transfer guards Young and Carey, who have had different impacts this season. Watch out for Scott, he was dominant with 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting in a win at home against the Illini last season. However, I think the Illinois defense should match up well against this team. They haven’t seen a team with this depth and athleticism this season.
- G Skyy Clark
- G RJ Melendez
- G Terrence Shannon Jr.
- F Matthew Mayer
- F Coleman Hawkins
The Illini will stick with the same five they’ve had in all seven games this season. I don’t have much to add other than I am looking forward to the Illini trying to shoot the ball more efficiently away from a zone defense in this game.
The Analytics Between the Two Teams
- Adjusted Offensive Efficiency – ILL 39th, MD 17th
- Adjusted Defensive Efficiency – ILL 9th, MD 33rd
- Adjusted Tempo – ILL 15th, MD 198th
- All-Play Percentage – ILL 22nd, MD 23rd
- Offensive Efficiency – ILL 39th, MD 20th
- Defensive Efficiency – ILL 9th, MD 20th
The Illini have an elite defense, we have seen that all season. They come at teams in waves and have the necessary length and athleticism to disrupt the opponent. This will be a big test for both sides in that regard. I am interested to see how the Illini offense flows in this game as they could try to get out and run. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game slowed down.
Players to Watch & Prediction
- Players to Watch
- Maryland – Donta Scott
- As I mentioned earlier, Scott was a menace against the Illini last season. They have to match up better against him this season. I have to think that despite Illini’s switching on defense, we will see Hawkins and Mayer take Scott on (possibly Shannon Jr. or Melendez as well).
- Illinois – Matthew Mayer
- This is a game for Mayer to be able to defend more favorable size matchups for him. And I also think that he will have plenty of opportunities to make shots in this game.
- Maryland – Donta Scott
- Maryland wins 68-64
I think this is a close and hard-fought game, a classic Big Ten matchup. I think the Illini hang around for most of the game, possibly leading it, but the home team survives late. I do think this is a good matchup for Illinois, and they could succeed more than I expect.
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