#6 Maryland vs #11 Xavier
6:50 p.m. ET, TNT
24-8, (12-6 Big Ten)
Player to Watch: Melo Trimble (17.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG)
Melo Trimble has been the highlight of Maryland’s team for the last 3 years. Between his acrobatic layups and game winning 3-pointers, Trimble has been the team’s leader. Trimble is one of the best at the pick and roll, and is one of the most dangerous guards in the NCAA… if the rest of the Terps can pick up and play to his level. Remember to #StayMelo Terp fans.
X Factor: Size
Jaylen Brantley and Anthony Cowan, both are listed as 6’0 and under, really struggle with matchups against taller guards. Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura, Xavier’s leading healthy scorers, are both standing tall at 6’6 and 6’5. If Cowan struggles to score and defend against these taller guards, then Maryland will have to compensate. In Maryland’s losses against Purdue, Penn State, and Wisconsin, Cowan scored less than 7 points. Cowan alleviates the pressure on Trimble, and is essential to allow Trimble to rest easy on the bench.
21-13, (9-9 Big East)
Player to Watch: Trevon Bluiett (18.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 APG)
Trevon Bluiett is an amazing guard and leading scorer for the Musketeers. Bluiett is playing almost 25 minutes per game. Bluiett is coming off an ankle injury, and while he had to sit out the Musketeers had no chance against their opponent.
X Factor: Injuries
Xavier, much like Maryland, has lost 7 of their last 10 games. Xavier is struggling without Myles Davis, who has left, and Xavier’s second leading scorer, Edmond Sumner, who has a season ending injury. Xavier lacks big men, and is a guard-oriented team. Without Sumner, only 2 Musketeers score in the double digits.
Match-Up to Watch: Melo Trimble vs. Trevon Bluiett
Melo Trimble and Trevon Bluiett. Both are their team’s leading scorers, both have had nasty game winning shots, and are both calm and level headed during games. This is a matchup many will want to see. Trimble will be assisted defensively by Cowan, but it will be exciting to see some of the tops guards in the nation battle it out with everything on the line.
Key Stat: Defense
Xavier is 153rd in the country in scoring defense, allowing their opponents to score 71.4 points per game, along with 117th in country in 3-point defense. If Maryland, a 36.3% 3-point shooting team can get hot behind the arc, then the game will be over. Maryland has shooters like Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson at the wing who can cause damage.
Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 69, Xavier Musketeers 63
Although Maryland struggles against taller guards, Xavier lacks big men. Maryland’s leading rebounder, Justin Jackson, is only 6’7 but has a 7’3 wingspan, and 6’11 Damonte Dodd will have an easier time rebounding against Xavier’s starting center, 6’9 RaShid Gaston and 6’10 backup center Sean O’Mara. If Maryland can out rebound and are successful in the paint, Maryland will breeze over the Musketeers.