As Maryland basketball comes off of two vital road wins, its focus must remain on the challenges ahead. So far, the true challenge for the young Terps has been consistency. While Maryland is playing impressive defense, there is still room for improvement on the other end of the court. In both field goal and three-point percentage, Maryland sits at the bottom half of the conference.
Enter Aaron Wiggins and Jalen Smith.
From behind the arc, both have improved tremendously in the last three contests. A bench role has pulled Wiggins out of a season long shooting slump. The sophomore wing averaged 42% behind the line in the last three games. Smith has improved his confidence on the three as well, going 4-6 from beyond the arc in his career high 29-point performance in Indiana.
“We got more guys playing better,” said Coach Mark Turgeon. “We got more guys playing confident and we still have some work to do.”
Next, the Terps gear up to face Iowa. The Hawkeyes handed Maryland its third true road loss of the season in a game that was undoubtedly its worst showing of the season. Iowa’s Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp combined for 47 points in a 67-point team effort. Maryland only managed to squeak out 49 points in an ugly road match.
Iowa’s win against Maryland was the start of a five game winning streak that the Hawkeyes are still riding as they head into Xfinity. Thanks to their potent offense, the Hawkeyes have earned a ranked position and have made a huge jump in the Big Ten standings since their victory against the Terps.
In their last meeting, the Terps failed to contain the inside-out action by Weiskamp and Garza. The Hawkeyes now have the services of C.J. Fredrick, who was injured in the last time the two teams met. Fredrick is the most skilled shooter on the team, shooting an impressive 47% from the three.
One thing that the Terps can definitely count on is the presence of the crowd. Xfinity Center has been the home of many great performances that have featured Maryland at its best. Iowa, on the other hand, is at its best when their front court is potent along with the back court.
The Terps have to look to the defensive ability of Wiggins and Darryl Morsell to contain the potential lights out shooting of Weiskamp and Fredrick. Maryland should also look to rebound consistently and neutralize the supporting cast around Garza. As the postseason inches closer, more teams will be giving their best effort. Whether the Terps will be able to match the effort of their opposition will ultimately determine their title hopes.