By Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_301)
For the seventeenth straight year, the Maryland Terrapins will be a participant in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which is hosted around late November and early December every year.
But for the third straight year, the Terps will be representing the Big Ten side in the challenge.
Since switching conferences in 2014, the Terps have yet to defeat a former ACC foe. In 2014, the Terps hosted the Virginia Cavaliers, and lost by 11. A year ago, the Terps traveled to Chapel Hill, a place they were very familiar with, as they clashed with longtime rival North Carolina. The no. 9 Tar Heels defeated the no. 2 Terrapins in a thriller, 89-82.
But in year three, Maryland faces a somewhat unfamiliar foe, as University of Pittsburgh travels to College Park. Pitt joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013, the last year the Terps were a part of it.
Despite starting the season with seven straight victories, the Terps are going to have their hands full with the 5-1 Pitt Panthers coming to town.
Although the season is young, senior forwards Michael Young and Jamel Artis are averaging over 23 and 19 points per game, respectively.
The Terps will look to forward L.G. Gill – who has faced Pitt several times dating back to his Duquesne days — to stop the dynamic forward duo the Panthers have.
Freshman guard Anthony Cowan only stands at 5 foot 11, but head coach Mark Turgeon has called him the Terps’ best perimeter defender.
In high school, Cowan guarded now-Washington star Markelle Fultz, who stands at 6 foot 7, as well as Louisville freshman V.J. King, who is also 6 foot 7.
Cowan said he is always “ready to take on the challenge” that a taller player brings.
With four starters gone from a year ago, many questioned who would step up for the Terps alongside star point guard Melo Trimble. So far, it has been the trio of freshman – Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson – that have helped lead the Terps to an undefeated start.
“They’ve handled everything,” Turgeon said on his three freshmen. “[Kansas State head coach] Bruce Weber said to me after the game that ‘your young guys play with great poise.’ Anthony has been that way his whole life. Kevin plays with great poise. Justin Jackson’s just a baller. He plays hard.”
Five of the Terps wins have been by six points or fewer. The Terps were 10-0 in such games in 2014-15—a Terps team that Turgeon has compared this year’s squad to the most.
“We’re a good team,” Cowan said. “Even though we’re young, we’re still good. When the game is coming down to the wire, we’re just good basketball players that know how to make the right decisions.”