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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: #5 Maryland

The Golden Eagles meet the Terrapins for the first time ever.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Maryland vs LSU John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Name: University of Maryland, College Park

Typo! Nope. It’s supposed to be a comma, not a hyphen like a normal state college system. Why? No idea, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to try and figure that out with 25 hours before tipoff.

Founded: 1856

Location: College Park, Maryland

That’s not helpful. As is often the case when it comes to a lot of schools, no, it is not. As you might expect, College Park is the city that grew up around the university. Development began in 1889, long after the school started, and it wasn’t officially incorporated as an actual town in Maryland until 1945.

Okay, but you still didn’t tell me where it is. Oh, right. It’s essentially a suburb of Washington, D.C., with Maryland’s campus sitting at a 17 mile drive away from Georgetown.

A Long and Very Weird History For A Flagship School: The school that we identify as “The University of Maryland” or just “Maryland” in the college sports landscape is not the founding school in the University of Maryland system. That honor belongs to University of Maryland, Baltimore, which was founded in 1807. College Park started as Maryland Agricultural College (this is why they’re actually a perfect fit for the Big Ten), and went into bankruptcy by the end of the Civil War. The state took half-ownership of the school in 1866 (it was technically a private school up until then), but they wouldn’t take full ownership until 1916, when it was renamed Maryland State College. Even then, it didn’t become part of what you would call the University of Maryland System until 1920.

Enrollment: Approximately 41,200, with about 31,000 as undergraduates.

Nickname: Terrapins

Why “Terrapins?” Get this: In 1932, university president, athletic director, football coach, and basketball coach (no, seriously) Curley Byrd suggested going with the diamondback terrapin as the school mascot. In 1933, a bronze statue of a terrapin — named Testudo, which is classical Latin for tortoise — was placed on campus, and that was that.

Actually, there’s more, because the Maryland General Assembly made the diamondback terrapin the legal mascot of the school (and the official state reptile) in 1994. NINETEEN NINETY-FOUR. SIXTY-TWO YEARS LATER.

Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins: Okay, so if I’m following this correctly, terrapins and tortoises are both kinds of turtles. However, terrapins live in watery areas while tortoises are land-dwelling. I think this means that naming the UMD mascot with the Latin word for tortoise is actually a misnomer. I think. I’m not a herpetologist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.

Notable Alumni: Curley Byrd, noted terrapin lover; Parren Mitchell, Maryland’s first black U.S. Congressman; Herbert Hauptman, the only non-chemist to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry; actress Karen Allen, best known as Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark; Robert Briskman, co-founder of Sirius Satellite Radio; television writer/producer Liz Lemon; cartoonist Frank Cho; Sergei Brin, co-founder of Google; Jeff Kinney, writer of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series; Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David; Galo Plaza, President of Ecuador (1948-1952); Jim m’f’ing Henson; radio host Art Bell; ESPN host Scott Van Pelt; Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks comic strip and animated television show; Leonard T. Schroeder, Jr., the first soldier ashore on D-Day; David Simon, former Baltimore Sun reporter, author, and creator of Homicide: Life On The Street and The Wire; FBI agent Dana Scully; Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour; two-time Academy Award winning actress Dianne Wiest; television news reporter/anchor Connie Chung; ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian; Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, most famous for his work on reporting the Watergate scandal; and finally, Len Elmore.

Last Season: 23-11, with a 13-7 record in the Big Ten. They earned a #6 seed in the NCAA tournament, and lost in the second round to LSU.

Final 2018-19 Ranking: #24

This Season: 7-0 after squeaking past Temple and Harvard in their first two games in the Orlando Invitational. The Terrapins started the year ranked #7 in the preseason AP poll and moved up to #5 in the most recent poll. A win in this game will likely earn them first place votes in Monday’s poll, if not actually propel them to #1 after Duke’s loss to Stephen F. Austin.

Current 2019-20 KenPom Ranking: #17

Stat Leaders

Points: Anthony Cowan Jr., 16.4 ppg
Rebounds: Jalen Smith, 9.4 rpg
Assists: Anthony Cowan Jr., 4.6 apg

Shooters? Much like USC on Friday, generally speaking, no, Maryland does not have shooters. They rank #223 in the country per KenPom in three-point shooting percentage at 31.1%. Remember 33.3% is the point where your effective field goal percentage on threes flips over to 50%, so anything below that isn’t good. With that said, they also don’t take a bunch of them, ranking right around the middle of the country in terms of volume.

However, Marquette needs to start guarding Anthony Cowan when he gets off the bus. The 6’0” senior guard is knocking down 45% of his threes this season after never hitting more than 37% in his three previous season. Cowan appears to be a big fan of the rims at Disney World, as he’s shooting 7-for-13 (54%) in UMD’s two games. Donta Scott might be worth keeping an eye on, as he’s hitting 35% on 17 attempts this season, but he’s yet to hit more than one in a game this year.

On the other side of the spectrum, Eric Ayala should be ignored behind the arc until he hits one first. The 6’5” sophomore has raised his season shooting percentage to 25% by going 3-for-10 in the Orlando Invitational. He did make 41% of his 128 attempts a year ago, so he clearly has the ability to knock it down. However, given his struggles to this point of the season, the Golden Eagles are probably best making Ayala prove he’s worth defending. He’s shooting 63% inside the arc, so sagging off of him is a benefit there, too.

Bigs? You better believe it. In both games of the Orlando Invitational, Maryland has started two guys that stand 6’10”. Jalen Smith, a sophomore from Baltimore, is the much more notable of the two, as he is second on the team in scoring and tops in rebounding. KenPom has him as a top 75 offensive rebounder and shot blocker, and he’s no slouch when it comes to defensive rebounding and drawing fouls, either. He’s also an excellent free throw shooter for a big guy (78% this year), and while he shouldn’t do it, he is attempting nearly two three-pointers per game. He’s only hit two all year, with both coming against Temple in game #1 of this tournament.

The other big in the starting lineup has been Makhi Mitchell, but he gets a big ol’ asterisk as Maryland’s Erik Williams Memorial Starter. Mitchell has started four of Maryland’s seven games this season, and has played 4, 7, 19, and 8 minutes in those games. In his non-starts, the 6’10” freshman has played 8, 7, and 10 minutes. The 10 came in a 23 point smashing of George Mason back on campus, while the 19 in a start came against Temple in this event. I’m expecting him to start on Sunday, but I’m not exactly thinking that he’ll have much of an impact here.

Mitchell’s twin brother Makhel Mitchell is also on the roster, but he’s played even less than Makhi has this year. Other than that, there’s no one else on the roster to worry about. KenPom shows the 6’6”, 200 lb. Aaron Wiggins as Maryland’s most frequent 4 in the lineup over the past five games, and the 6’7”, 225 lb. Donta Scott as the next guy down. There’s also the 6’8”, 220 lb. Ricky Lindo, but he has played just eight total minutes in Maryland’s last two games.

General Game Plan Note: Other than the three-point shooting, Maryland doesn’t really have a weakness. That seems kind of obvious given their KenPom ranking and their AP ranking, but it had to be said. They’re not a great three-point shooting defense team, but if I were our friends at Testudo Times, I wouldn’t be worrying about allowing exactly 33% outside shooting. Then again, Maryland seems to be pretty bad in terms of the volume of three-pointers they allow. 42% of their opponents’ shots this season have come from behind the arc, which ranks #287 in the country according to KenPom. That’s a lot, and when you’re facing Markus Howard et. al., an inability to drive shooters off the line could be where the game is decided. Of course, it’s also possible that the three-point numbers are affected by an unwillingness to challenge Smith inside and teams are settling for outside shots that they’re not good at hitting. That’s the difference here, though, as Marquette has a bunch of guys comfortable hitting long range bombs even when Howard isn’t doing his best Johnny Storm impression.

Head Coach: Mark Turgeon in his ninth season at Maryland and 22nd season as a head coach overall. Turgeon was previously the head coach at Jacksonville State, Wichita State, and Texas A&M. He has a record of 187-92 with the Terrapins and 437-251 overall.

All Time Series: Get ready for some fun, because you’ll be watching history on Sunday afternoon. Marquette and Maryland have never met before.