Maryland Must Handle Ohio State's Pressure in ACC-Big 10 Challenge

By Joe Atmonavage
Dez Wells
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Maryland‘s last ACC-Big 10 challenge while apart of the ACC, I am fairly confident about two things in their matchup against Ohio State. Maryland’s point guard play is shaky and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft is the best on-ball defender in all of college basketball. I have a funny feeling that those two things will play a part in if the Terps leave Columbus with a win.

Dez Wells will most likely man the point guard duties to start for Mark Turgeon’s squad when they tipoff against the Buckeyes at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday. Wells has started at the point guard position for five of the Terps seven games. He is by no means a point guard, but with Seth Allen out with a foot injury, Turgeon handed the ball over to Wells because of his leadership and strength.

Wells has not been very good as a point guard this season. He has 22 assists compared to 20 turnovers, which is most on the team. He has struggled getting the team into their offensive sets and handling the point guard duties has taken away from him attacking the basket from the wing, where he is at his best. On the plus side, Wells can overpower opposing point guards on offense and defense because of his size and NBA-type strength.

Freshman Roddy Peters is Maryland’s best option at point guard. He has great size and vision. He can finish around the rim, but always seems to find the open man for easy shots. Maryland’s offense has looked its best when he is running the show and Wells is on the wing. Turgeon has shied away from starting Peters permanently because of his lackluster defensive effort.

Craft knows there is a possibility he could have an absolute field day with these inexperienced point guards. Craft is a senior who has made much better guards look foolish. Coach Thad Matta is going to have Craft pressure the ball up and down the court to try and force the Terps into turnovers, which could lead to easy Buckeye buckets.

I expect Wells to start and it will be important that he takes care of the ball and does not let Craft’s defensive energy rattle him early. When Peters is in, I worry about him handling his first big-road game on top of Craft’s defensive prowess. It will be a tough challenge for the freshman, but if he wants to prove to Turgeon that he should be the starter, controlling the tempo and handling the pressure of this game would be a big statement.

Handling the pressure of Ohio Sate’s defense will not just be on these two. Players capable of handling the ball, like Nick Faust and Jake Layman, must come back to the ball and help take the ball up the court. I suspect Faust will take the ball up the court numerous times in order to get Craft away from the ball. It is going to have to be a team effort to handle Craft and Ohio State’s pressure.

Maryland has to do a lot of things well to win this game, but it all starts with taking care of the basketball. If they can do, do not be surprised if they come away with a win.

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