Nittany Lions Travel to Maryland to Open Big Ten Slate

Story posted December 29, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Madeleine Balestrier

Penn State faces a tough conference challenge Wednesday night as the Nittany Lions travel to College Park, Maryland to take on the No. 4 Maryland Terrapins in both teams’ Big Ten opener.

The Terrapins came into this season with a lot of hype, as they were ranked amongst the nation’s top teams to begin the season. Aside from an eight-point loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Maryland has lived up to the hype so far, sitting second in the conference and ranked fourth in the nation.

While Maryland is a game or two from placing themselves within the likes of the conference leader, Michigan State, Penn State finds themselves performing better than expected as the Nittany Lions recorded a 9-4 non-conference record. While the early success is a surprise to come experts, the Blue and White enter a tough stretch of conference games, beginning with the Terrapins Wednesday night.

Maryland is very balanced on offense, which has been the biggest strength for this team this season. The Terrapins are third in the nation in field goal percentage, knocking down almost 54 percent of their shots. Maryland’s top scorers include Melo Trimble and Robert Carter Jr. Trimble, who led the Terrapins in scoring last season, averages a team high 14.8 points per game while Carter Jr. is right behind the sophomore, adding 13 points per game. While Trimble is the star, Carter Jr. has seemingly come out of nowhere to provide a nice compliment. Defensively, the Nittany Lions need to key in on these two players and prevent them from taking over the game.

The Terrapins still have weaknesses to exploit. Their two largest problems are that Maryland sometimes has an inability to maintain leads as well as being a relatively youthful team. During their last game against Marshall, the Terrapins managed to blow a 12-0 run, exemplifying some of their inconsistent play. The youth of Maryland has created some chemistry issue between teammates on the court, which has been a reason for their inconsistent play at times.

Penn State’s keys to victory lie in their tough, grinding mentality and use of productive players across the board. Although the Nittany Lions may not be as talented as Maryland, they find strength in Maryland’s weaknesses. The Nittany Lions have a nice balance of youth and experience, something that will be beneficial when taking on talented teams in hostile environments. Brandon Taylor, Shep Garner and Jordan Dickerson have shown to be bright spots this season. These players help contribute to Penn State’s grinding style of play, which is essential to keep Penn State within arms reach of a victory.

The Penn State Nittany Lions look to upset the formidable Maryland Terrapins this Wednesday night at 5:00 PM in the Xfinity Center.

Madeleine Balestrier is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, email mrb5883@psu.edu