8th ranked Maryland hosts #3 Iowa later tonight in College Park in a meeting between arguably the two most talented teams in the Big Ten. The Terrapins boast stars like Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Robert Carter, and Diamond Stone while the Hawkeyes consist of playmakers like Jarrod Uthoff, Peter Jok, Adam Woodbury, two experienced point guards, and a worthy bench.
Iowa is 7-0 in the Big Ten with road victories already over Michigan State and Purdue. They've swept both the Spartans and Boilermakers in addition to a quality win at home against Michigan.
Maryland enters tonight's tussle with a 6-2 conference record. They fell recently to Michigan State at the Breslin Center and also have a loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. Their best Big Ten wins include sweeping Northwestern, defeating Wisconsin on the road, and blasting Ohio State at home. Their meeting with Iowa tonight is by far their toughest league game to date. They have defeated Georgetown and UConn in non-league play and fell short against North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
This is arguably the toughest contest thus far for both teams. When looking at the Big Ten, you won't find two more talented teams. The top 10 squads are probably the league's best chance for a final four appearance, with possibly Purdue and Indiana also in the mix.
Maryland's starting five all could have a future in the NBA when you look at Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jake Layman, Robert Carter, and Diamond Stone. It is a team built for tournament play. Iowa has great pieces as well but doesnt have five players that will play professional basketball in the United States. The Hawkeyes do have the more reliable bench thus far.
From a shooting perspective, Iowa likely has an advantage there as well. Maryland doesn't possess the perimeter scoring capabilities the Hawkeyes have in Uthoff, Jok, Gesell, Clemmons, Ellingson, Uhl, and Baer. The addition of Sulaimon did help them in that regard, though.
However, Melo Trimble helps overcome that disadvantage against Iowa because of how well he can create. He's not a volume scorer at all but he does put his teammates in great position to convert. Gesell and Clemmons do that as well but not near the level that Trimble can. Because of Gesell and Clemmons, Iowa is one of the few teams with the players in place to prevent him from taking off.
Because of the length and size of their front line, and their versatility to jump in and out of the paint, the Terrapins are one of the few teams suited to corral Uthoff with capable defenders. Layman and Carter can both guard him inside and out. They won't stop him completely, but they have the tools necessary and multiple players that can match up on that end of the floor.
Woodbury and Stone likely cancel themselves out in this showdown. Stone is gifted on the offensive end but you won't find a better post defender than Woodbury. Stone's deficiencies are on the defensive end but Woodbury isn't an offensive-minded player. However, don't be surprised to see Fran McCaffery to try to run some of the offense through him to see if they can take advantage of Stone inside.
This should be an excellent game. Both teams have the pieces to contain the other's high scorers and creators. Gesell and Clemmons should give Trimble all he can handle, Woodbury should be able to limit Stone's effectiveness, but Layman and Carter should be able to do the same against Uthoff. However, one advantage for the Hawkeyes could be Peter Jok. If he brings his sharp shooting, that could be the difference as he'll be a tough guard for Layman or Carter on the outside.
If Iowa takes care of the ball, shares it, stays out of foul trouble, and limits Trimble's impact on the game, they are more than capable of walking away with a victory.
Shots don't fall every game. Maryland is super talented. It's on the road. The Hawkeyes are bound to trip up at some point. This seems like one of those nights.