Syracuse Basketball Faces Maryland in Big Ten/ACC Challenge
By Matthew Wieselthier
Syracuse (5-0) hosts Maryland (6-1) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at 7:00 p.m. Maryland leads Syracuse 5-3 in the overall series.
No Melo, No Problem
Melo Trimble left the Terrapins after his junior season to head into the NBA after leading Maryland to NCAA Tournament all three seasons he was in College Park. Now, the Terps are led by three sophomores: Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson. Cowan is taking over as the main point guard this season after getting cameos in that spot last season, along with Trimble. Cowan has been the star of the early season, averaging 15.3 points, 3.6 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game. Kevin Huerter goes between playing a big guard and a small forward depending on the lineup that is on the court. Huerter is averaging 10.7 points, 4.1 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. Jackson is the most explosive of the three sophomores and was a possible NBA Lottery selection last year before deciding to return to college. Jackson has struggled early in the season. Last year, Jackson shot 43.8% from the field. This year, Jackson is making just 36.1% of his shots. Statistically on the year, Jackson is almost averaging a double-double with 9.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Cowan, Huerter, and Jackson have started every single game this season. The other two spots in the starting five haven’t been as constant. Maryland has played five different starting lineups this season. The varying starters include Ivan Bender, Michal Cekovsky, Bruno Fernando, and Dion Wiley. The Terrapins still looking to solidify their rotations early in the season. This was apparent on Friday, when Maryland lost to St. Bonaventure 63-61 in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic. The Terps then started a new starting five the next day in the third-place game against the New Mexico Lobos, winning 80-65.
Syracuse has been successful early in the season, but it has been against mid-majors. This is the first real test of the season for the Orange. It is also a competition that Syracuse has struggled in the past couple of years. Syracuse played Wisconsin each of the past two years in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. In 2015, the Badgers brought the Orange to overtime in the Carrier Dome, then didn’t allow a single field goal in the extra period to beat Jim Boeheim’s team 66-58 (this was followed by Boeheim’s nine-game suspension by the NCAA). Last year, Syracuse traveled to Madison and got crushed by Wisconsin 77-66. The last time Syracuse won in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge was in 2013 with a 69-52 over Indiana.
Syracuse 74, Maryland 73
Syracuse, welcome to the 2017 College Basketball Season. Maryland is fast, big, and athletic, a combination that the Orange haven’t seen this season. This is a big test to see if the young Orange can truly step up defensively. The key matchup to watch will be Anthony Cowan guarding Tyus Battle, as Cowan is an elite defender. The Carrier Dome will push the Orange over the edge, as the Terrapins haven’t looked great on neutral courts (1-1 at the Emerald Coast Classic), and should struggle in an away game. However, if Syracuse allows another big first half to its opponent, the Orange won’t be able to come back and it will be the first loss of the season before a trip to take on Kansas in Miami.