Maryland will take on UCLA on Friday night as they look for revenge from the absolute beat down the Bruins gave them last season at the Xfinity Center, 87-60. Both teams have gotten off to rocky starts on the year and this high-profile matchup gives them both an opportunity to right the ship and gain momentum heading into conference play.
TV schedule: Friday, December 22nd, 9:00pm ET, ESPN2
Arena: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
The Terrapins are coming into this game off a close call against Nicholls, a bad team that they were barely able to outlast. Maryland is a solid team on the defensive end, as they rank in the top 25 according to KenPom, but their offense is a completely different story. The addition ofDeShawn-Harris Smith, along with a core group of players returning, was supposed to give this team a somewhat respectable offense, but they have been anything but.
It all comes down to their shooting woes, as they shoot a disgusting 26.7% from deep, good for 349th in the nation (out of 362). They shoot 41% from the floor, placing them at 318. Basically, this team needs to start making shots so teams stop packing the paint, but they look disjointed and sometimes disinterested.
UCLA is essentially a better version of the Terrapins, but not by much. They showed a lot of promise losing close contests to Marquette and Gonzaga, but they have since lost three in a row to Villanova, Ohio State and a huge shocker to Cal State Northridge. I am not sure what is going on with Mick Cronin's squad, but maybe losing almost all of their production from a year ago is simply too much for them to turn around in one year. Sebastian Mack and Dylan Andrews have been awesome, and Adem Bona is one of the best big men in the nation, but the Bruins have yet to figure it out as a unit.
This game is a tossup, and it could end up being one of the more disgusting games of the year. I think both teams are desperate to get back on track, so we should see some elite defense throughout. At the end of the day, I think Maryland ends up winning this one as revenge for last season's embarrassment will have them locked in for this one.
A lot of their players remember that game, most of the Bruins weren't even on the roster. Mack will probably have a big night, but I think Maryland will give UCLA fits on the defensive end from an athletic perspective, and Julian Reese vs Adem Bona should be a fun matchup to watch.
Prediction: Maryland 60, UCLA 55