No. 20 Purdue has one of the best frontlines in the country, and that group imposed its will on No. 10 Maryland on Saturday afternoon.
The Boilermakers defeated the Terps 83-79 at Mackey Arena to pick up their fifth top-50 win of the season and move to 10-6 in Big Ten play. The game probably should not have been as close as it was, as Matt Painter’s group largely ruled the action for 35 minutes until Mark Turgeon and Maryland instituted a press in order to try to get back into the game while down double digits. It worked, as the Terps forced five turnovers in the final five minutes, but it just wasn’t quite enough to get all the way back.
The key in this one was rebounding, particularly on the offensive end for Purdue. The Boilermakers grabbed 19 offensive rebounds compared to just 13 defensive rebounds for the Terps. Seven different Purdue players had at least two rebounds on the offensive end, and it led to 24 second-chance points. That’s the ballgame right there for the Terps.
A.J. Hammons was terrific again for Purdue, scoring 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He outperformed Maryland freshman phenom Diamond Stone, who scored 18 points but only mustered two defensive rebounds on the evening. Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan also combined for 19 points, and Dakota Mathias provided a nice spark off the bench with 17 points.
It’s a win that will certainly help the Boilermakers when seeding time comes for the NCAA Tournament. However, the more interesting side of this going forward comes with the other team. Maryland is the No. 10 team in the country, but if the committee seeds based off of résumé as opposed to talent the Terps could be in for a bit of a lower finish than anticipated coming into the season. The team doesn’t have any bad losses, but it has just a 5-4 record against the top 50 and only one top-20 win. Maryland will have a chance to pick up an important road win down the stretch against Indiana on March 6, but at this point the résumé is more in line with a No. 4 seed than it is with the top-2 seed everyone expected coming into the season.
The Terps are in a bit of a precarious position now, and need to start playing up to their talent level in order to get themselves out of it.