Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Coming off an upset over a Top-25 foe, the Ohio State Buckeyes set their sights on a second consecutive ranked opponent, as they play host to the 16th-ranked Maryland Terrapins in a Big Ten matchup at Value City Arena on Thursday night.
Thad Matta's Buckeyes were in the Top-25 this season, but a couple of league losses dropped the team from the ranks. Ohio State is on an upswing once again however, inching closer to admittance back into the polls, thanks to wins over Northwestern (69-67) and most recently, Indiana (82-70). The win over the Hoosiers this past weekend improved OSU to 16-5 overall and 5-3 in league play, good for a fourth-place tie with Indiana and Purdue.
Mark Turgeon's Terrapins have certainly acclimated themselves to their new conference, as they are in the midst of a strong campaign that has the team at 18-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, good for sole possession of second place, behind only Wisconsin (7-1). Maryland has won four of its last five games and comes in off a narrow 68-67 home win over Northwestern last time out.
Ohio State owns a 4-2 series advantage against Maryland, with this marking the first-ever meeting as Big Ten rivals. These two teams met last year in Columbus as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a game won by Ohio State, 76-60.
The Terrapins saved their best for last, as a Dez Wells' tip-in with under two seconds left to play propelled Maryland to a one-point win over Northwestern. Maryland, which trailed the entire game until the last 21 seconds, received 27 points from freshman guard Melo Trimble, as the 6-3 youngster was 8-of-18 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in the victory. Wells added 17 points to the cause for Maryland, which won despite shooting a mere .407 from the floor overall.
Strong defense has been the fuel that has driven the Maryland bus this season. The Terrapins are averaging a modest 72.5 ppg, but are allowing just 63.0 ppg, while holding foes under 40 percent shooting (.392). Trimble has been superb in his first season in College Park, leading the team in scoring (16.3 ppg), assists (61) and steals (32). Forward Jake Layman (14.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg) represents frontcourt balance, while Wells (13.6 ppg) also has a penchant for scoring.
Ohio State has its own dynamic freshman in D'Angelo Russell. After erupting for a career-high 33 points against Northwestern, Russell posted 22 points and 10 assists in the upset win over Indiana last time out. For his efforts, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Week. There was plenty of offense to go around in the win over the Hoosiers, as the team shot a sizzling .623 from the floor overall. Jae'Sean Tate went 9-of-10 from the floor and poured in 20 points, while Marc Loving and Shannon Scott added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Russell is bucking for all-conference honors this season as one of the Big Ten's most complete players. The 6-5 youngster ranks second in the conference in scoring (19.4 ppg) thanks in large part to his impressive .444 efficiency from long range. He is also averaging 5.2 rpg and 5.1 apg. Loving is a distant second in the scoring column for Ohio State at 11.3 ppg, followed closely by Sam Thompson's 10.1 ppg. With Russell leading the charge, OSU is averaging a robust 80.0 ppg, on a highly efficient .509 shooting (third nationally).