Jess Settles, BTN men's basketball analyst, March 11, 2016
Purdue is playing exceptional basketball at just the right time. And so is Nebraska's Shavon Shields. What does Maryland have to do to snap out of this funk? Here are three takes leading right up to Friday night's games on BTN/BTN2Go.
Boilermakers steaming along
The Boilers made quick work of the worn down Illini by dominating all phases of the game. We all know how difficult it is for opponents to match up with the Skyline of A.J. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas, but it is the outside shooting of P.J. Thompson, Vince Edwards, Ryan Cline, Kendall Stephens, and Dakota Mathias that gives Purdue a golden opportunity to win the Big Ten Tournament Championship.
Purdue drilled 13 three-pointers against Illinois with seven different Boilers contributing to the cause. Matt Painter is putting his backcourt in positions to score, and opponents who double the post are being severely punished by the Boiler sharpshooters. Over the last five games, Purdue has connected on 46-97 (47.4 percent) of their three-point shots. If they keep that up, a title is within reach.
Shavon Shields put together an epic performance at Michigan St. on January 21. The senior forward scored 28 points (19 in the second half) and stunned the Breslin Center crowd with his all-around performance. No one wearing green could stay in front of Shields. It?s the type of performance Shields and Nebraska need tonight against Maryland if the Huskers are going to continue their run in the Big Ten tournament.
Shields and scoring guard Andrew White both average over 16 points per game and can take over games. The dynamic duo will have to shoot the ball well from beyond the arc against the imposing Terp front line.
Perhaps no team in the country needs a chance to start over more than Maryland. The once Final Four favorites fell apart down the stretch, suffering dominant losses to Wisconsin and Indiana as well as losing on the road at winless Minnesota. The Terps may have received a break with Nebraska?s upset of the Badgers last night, but this weekend in Indy has to be more about Maryland finding an new identity rather than who they are lined up against.
Preseason Player of the Year selection Melo Trimble looks to be healthy and has to attack the rim with vengeance. Maryland?s front line has to block out and not try to outsize everyone on the glass. Rebounding is a very difficult skill to correct this time of the year, but there is no excuse for this team to ever be outclassed on the glass. Finally, the Terps must use more full court pressure to ignite their efforts.
Jake Layman is spectacular at the front of the press and Rasheed Sulamon and Melo Trimble are disruptive behind Layman. The press could be the formula for a team trying to regain its confidence.