The Wisconsin Badgers have landed in Maryland as they take on the Terrapins on Monday night.
Maryland (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) rides a five-game winning streak, most recently beating No. 22 Indiana on Friday night. Wisconsin (11-5, 3-2) hopes to get back on track after a rough overtime loss at home to Purdue.
Bruno Fernando has emerged as a presence for the Terps, averaging a double-double heading into Maryland’s seventh Big Ten game, while Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith both average double-figures in scoring through 17 games.
Here’s a quick look at some team stats, key KenPom metrics, and key playmakers for Maryland.
Maryland team stats
- Points per game: 77.5
- Opponents’ points per game: 66.1
- Field goal percentage: 48.0
- Opponent field goal percentage: 41.0
- Three-point percentage: 35.1
- Opponent three-point percentage: 33.6
- Free throw percentage: 73.7
- Rebounds per game: 40.3
- Turnovers per game: 12.9
- NCAA NET ranking: 22
Key KenPom.com stats
- Team rank: 21
- Adjusted offensive efficiency: 115.1 (14th in nation)
- Adjusted defensive efficiency: 96.0 (51st in nation)
- Offensive effective field goal percentage: 54.2 (50th in nation)
- Defensive effective field goal percentage: 47.3 (60th in nation)
- Defensive turnover percentage: 16.0 (317th in nation)
- Offensive rebound percentage: 37.5 (11th in nation)
- Defensive rebound percentage: 23.2 (13th in nation)
- Defensive free throws attempted/Field goals attempted: 25.9 (21st in nation)
- Offensive steal percentage: 10.4 (307th in nation)
- Defensive steal percentage: 7.5 (273rd in nation)
- Best win: 74-72 win vs. Nebraska (15th in KenPom)
- Worst loss: 78-74 loss vs. Seton Hall (48th in KenPom)
SNOWBALL FIGHT! ❄️— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 13, 2019
This isn’t our first r̶o̶d̶e̶o̶ blizzard
Safe and sound in Maryland (and making the most of the conditions) pic.twitter.com/3KtX25XUX7
Key Maryland playmakers
- Junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr.: 17.6 points per game; 4.0 rebounds per game; 77 assists in 17 games
- Sophomore forward Bruno Fernando: 14.8 points per game; 10.3 rebounds per game; 38 blocks in 17 games
- Freshman forward Jalen Smith: 12.3 points per game; 7.1 rebounds per game
Maryland rides a five-game winning streak heading into Monday night’s match-up against Wisconsin. What has been the general feeling about this season, especially going 5-1 in conference play so far?
It’s been kind of a rollercoaster season for the fans. The non-conference schedule was light on marquee matchups, but Maryland played Virginia as well as anyone has this season. The Terps have also struggled against some perceived lesser foes, and a home loss to Seton Hall led to an outpouring of frustration with head coach Mark Turgeon. But Maryland hasn’t lost since then. The stars are playing like stars, and the role players have all come a long way from where they were at the start of the year. Right now, fans are as optimistic as they’ve been since around this time two years ago, when Maryland started the season 20-2.
Who’s likely to guard Ethan Happ, and how effective could he/they be?
That would be Bruno Fernando, who might have turned himself into an NBA lottery pick this season. His offense has been the story, as he’s made 68.5 percent of his shots and gotten better at passing out of double-teams. But he’s also the best rim protector in the league right now, averaging 2.2 blocks per game. At 6’10 and 245 pounds, he can certainly match up with Happ. More importantly, he’s far more experienced and mature than he was last season, when the veteran got the best of him in both matchups.
Cowan, Fernando, and Smith all average double-figures. What does each bring to the team, and who else should Wisconsin fans watch for?
I mentioned Fernando earlier, but I’m happy to gush about him some more. He’s been a dominant force against just about everyone on Maryland’s schedule this season, and nobody has taken him out of the game entirely like some teams could last year. Smith has teamed up with him to form a formidable front line, although the skinny freshman (they call him “Sticks” for a reason, although he’s gotten much stronger in his upper body) brings more agility to the table. And Cowan is a prototypical scoring point guard. He’s a prolific slasher and streaky shooter, but when his jumpers are falling and he’s taking care of the ball, watch out.
Where do you think Maryland can have an advantage against Wisconsin, and what can the Badgers do well that could cause trouble for the Terps?
The big advantages for Maryland are rebounding and free throws. The Terps are one of the best rebounding teams in the country, thanks largely to Fernando and Smith, and they shoot 73.7 percent from the line compared to Wisconsin’s 66.5 percent. On the flip side, Wisconsin comes in with a slight edge in the three-point shooting and turnover departments. The Badgers’ 39.4 percent shooting from long range is 4.3 percent higher and 116 spots better in the national rankings (16th vs. 132nd). Maryland’s defense has also struggled to force turnovers, and Wisconsin plays a style that tends to limit giveaways. If the Badgers can control the tempo and take care of the ball, they’ll at least remain in the ballgame.
Keys to the game, and what’s your prediction?
The biggest key is Maryland avoiding another slow start. The Terps faced early deficits of 17-4 and 28-14 against Indiana, and that continued a trend of falling behind out of the gate. Maryland has trailed 14-3 against Seton Hall, 19-10 against Radford, 13-6 against Rutgers, and 15-8 against Minnesota. That’s quick deficits in five of the last six games. Remarkably, the Terps have come back to lead in all of those games and won the last five. But it’s easy to see this dooming Maryland if it continues, especially against a team like Wisconsin that doesn’t do much to beat itself.
Ultimately, I think Maryland’s hot streak continues in this one. The Xfinity Center crowd will be behind them, and they’ve got the talent to hold off the Badgers. Give me Maryland 72, Wisconsin 66.