Game #26 Terps face the 14th ranked Illinois

The Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team enters this game with heavy hearts after learning of the passing of iconic coach Lefty Driesell this morning. The team had a pregame tribute for Driesell as well as the team will wear throwback uniforms date back to the 1970s. The Terps enter with a 14-11 record and 6-8 in the Big-Ten. Tonight is a matchup with Illinois as they enter with a No. 14 ranking nationally. This is Maryland’s chance to grab a signature win this season.

The Terps returned their “Big Three” of fifth-year seniors Jahmir Young and Donta Scott, along with junior big man Julian Reese and added some impressive freshmen like 6’5″ guard DeShawn Harris-Smith. Jahmir Young leads Maryland with 20.9 points per game, third best in the Big Ten and 17th nationally, followed by Julian Reese (13.4 points, 10.1 rebounds). Donta Scott rounds out the top scorers with 11.3 points per game.

Maryland’s freshman class of Harris-Smith, Jamie Kaiser, Jr., and Jahnathan Lamothe ranked as the No. 15 best recruiting class in the country during the offseason. They were later joined in the spring by the addition of 7-foot center Braden Pierce who played at IMG Academy last year. Harris-Smith, widely regarded as one of the top-10 freshmen in the country this year, collected a number of individual honors after a standout year at Paul VI High School – Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year, Naismith High School All-American, WCAC Player of the Year, and All-MET Player of the Year.

Harris-Smith, Kaiser, and Lamothe make up one of the best DMV trios to sign with Maryland since 2002 when Travis Garrison, John Gilchrist, and Chris McCray joined the Terps. It’s the most DMV players to sign with Maryland in 15 years. As a group, they represent the highest ranked class for Maryland since 2018 when the Terps ranked 7th overall.

“Just staying focused right now on [the next opponent]. It’s a new team every year, and right now, just getting them focused … That’s the only thing you can really do right now.”

— head coach Kevin Willard said

Fans are also getting looks at transfers Jordan Geronimo (Indiana), Chance Stephens (LMU), and Mady Traore (New Mexico State). This is certainly a get-to-know-you time for Coach Willard with all of the new players on this roster, considering all of the transfer players as well as the incoming freshmen.

Last year, the Terps won 22 games and reached the NCAA Tournament Second Round before falling to No. 1 Alabama. The Terps were ranked as high as No. 6 in the NET and as high as No. 13 in the AP Top 25 Poll last season. Maryland went 8-0 to open last season before winning 8-of-10 in the heart of the Big Ten schedule. Home court was huge for Maryland as the Terps posted a 16-1 record at XFINITY including 10-0 in Big Ten games last season.

The Big-Ten announced their western expansion and added USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington for the 2024 season, as well as a new multi-billion-dollar media rights deal with Fox, CBS, NBC, and Peacock that will guarantee each school at least $50 million annually. The expansion to 18-schools makes this the most powerful basketball conference in the NCAA. That will add a lot of nationwide exposure as the Big-Ten expands east coast to west coast.

This is the 105th season of Terps basketball and expectations have been high in year two of the Kevin Willard era. The Terps are looking for a big win in this game.

Maryland’s record: 14-11, 6-8 Big-Ten

Illinois’ record: 18-6,, 9-4 Big-Ten

DraftKings Sportsbook: Maryland +3.5, O/U 143.5

Tip-off: Tuesday, February 17, 2024, 5:30 pm ET

Arena: XFinity Center • College Park, Maryland

TV: Jason Benetti (pxp), Robbie Hummel (analyst)

Streaming TV: FOX Sports

Radio: Audacy Radio App / SiriusXM 136; 105.7 FM (Balt.) / 980 AM (D.C.) — Johnny Holliday (play-by-play), (pxp), Chris Knoche (analyst), Walt Williams (analyst), Tom Marchitto (engineer)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.