Bucknell vs Maryland Preview and Prediction
Bucknell vs Maryland Preview
The Terrapins have started out strong to open the 2017-18 season despite missing key contributors from a season ago. Maryland has won each of their first three games by at least 14 points, including a 14-point home win over Butler on Wednesday. Sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr. leads Maryland in scoring at 18.7 points a contest and is coming off of a career-best 25 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Butler. Only one other player is scoring in double figures for coach Mark Turgeon — Kevin Huerter at 10.7 ppg — though five Terrapins are averaging between 7.7 and 9.7 points this season. Maryland has been winning despite sophomore forward Justin Jackson — expected to make a big leap into a leadership role on this season’s squad — starting slow, averaging 7.7 points on 39.1 percent shooting from the field.
Many looked at Jackson as the sophomore that would step into the big shoes of departed star Melo Trimble this season, but Cowan knew he’d be ready for that task after mostly deferring to Trimble as a freshman. The 6-foot guard has been just as active offensively as Trimble was, scoring his career-high 25 points against Butler on just eight shots from the field because he was able to get to the line 15 times, hitting 12 of those attempts. Trimble was able to get himself points while setting up teammates for open looks, and, after watching Trimble do that in 2016-17, Cowan looks like he’ll be taking over that role this season.
The Bison come in with a disappointing 0-3 record, but have been pesky in all of their games this season. This past Wednesday they pushed No.9 North Carolina to the breaking point–the Bison trailed by just one point at the halfway mark of the second half, but could not sustain that momentum, eventually losing by 12 to last year’s National Champion. The Bison have a veteran team, with three seniors in coach Nathan Davis’ starting lineup, but the player who will drive Bucknell is senior forward Zach Thomas, the team’s leading scorer (25.3 points), rebounder (10 per game) and 3-point shooter (14 on the season). The 6-7 Thomas has stepped up his game in his final collegiate campaign and is leading the team in minutes as well, averaging 32.3. And he hasn’t shown any signs of shying away from the spotlight, hitting 4-of-9 from 3-point range and finishing with 21 points in the Bison’s attempt at an upset of defending national champion North Carolina.
Another inside presence that the Terrapins will have to keep in check is Nana Foulland. At 6’9 he represents another inside presence for the Bison, and is averaging 17.7 points and four rebounds a night. While much of this team prefers to do their work from deep, all of Foulland’s career points have come from inside the arc or at the free throw line.
The Terps have performed magnificently on the defensive end, posting a top-30 defensive efficiency rating, so far, according to Kenpom. Bucknell is a threat from beyond the arc, so this game will pose a test to their perimeter defense–but ultimately, the Terps are too talented to fall to the Bison.
Maryland 82 Bucknell 72
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