Preview: Maryland visits Ohio State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Preview: Maryland visits Ohio State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
December 4, 2013, 9:15 am
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Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House

(USA TODAY Sports)

VITALS

Date: 4 December 2013

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Television: ESPN

Spread: Ohio State (-10.0)

FAST BREAK PREVIEW

Four straight wins have helped to right the ship for Maryland after starting the season 1-2, but the Terrapins were handed just about as difficult an ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup as possible by drawing No. 5 Ohio State on the road Wednesday night.

It is the biggest game of the non-conference schedule for Maryland and the type of win that would give a significant boost to an NCAA tournament resume come Selection Sunday.

Can they get the win? Preview it below.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Ohio State PG Aaron Craft vs. Maryland PG Dez Wells

The Dez Wells experiment at point guard is becoming a more streamlined process now. After turning the ball over six times in the team’s season-opening loss to Connecticut, Wells turned it over just six times in three games during the team’s trip to the Virgin Islands.

He’ll need that type of ball security in a difficult road environment against Craft, one of the nation’s best perimeter defenders.

Wells has the advantage of size, bulk, and new defensive rules prohibiting arm-check fouls, but going up against Craft will be the junior’s biggest test of the season so far.

Craft will try to force Wells into poor, rushed decisions and eventually turnovers, which will lead to run-outs and easy points in transition. Without a go-to scorer offensively, Ohio State will take whatever it can get.

[RELATED: How will Maryland combat Aaron Craft's defense?]

MARYLAND PLAYER TO WATCH

Jake Layman, forward

Coming off a career-high 27 points that included 7-of-10 shooting from three-point range, Layman will be the barometer of how well Maryland can stick with Ohio State on Wednesday.

If he struggles, Maryland will struggle. If he is able to help alleviate some of the defensive pressure by hitting shots from the perimeter, Maryland will have a chance to better keep pace.

Coach Mark Turgeon stressed to the media yesterday that ball security will be key for players like Layman, too, and not just the guards against the Buckeyes.

OHIO STATE PLAYER TO WATCH

Amir Williams, center

At 6-11, 250 pounds, Williams is the team’s leading points scorer (11.3) and rebounder (8.3) per game. But whereas Turgeon used freshman center Damonte Dodd to combat the length of Morgan State seven-footer Ian Chiles, it will be bulk that wins the battle against Ohio State.

Both forwards Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare will be giving up a few inches to Williams, but their ability to defend without fouling and close out possessions on the defensive end will be key on Wednesday night.

[RELATED: Big Ten-season Smotrycz helps Terps prepare for Ohio State]

INTANGIBLE TO CONSIDER

Ohio State ranked ninth in the country last season in average home attendance, drawing just over 16,500 fans to Value City Arena each game. Coach Scott Spinelli has joked throughout the week that “red is not much different,” saying that the Terrapins will be engulfed in red as they typically are at Comcast Center.

The Buckeyes have won 12 straight games at home, dating back to last season. Their last loss in that building came on Feb. 10, 2013 vs. Indiana. It was only one of two home losses for Ohio State last season. The other was against Kansas on Dec. 22, 2012.

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