The third-ranked Maryland Terrapins won three games in four days last week. Notre Dame took seven days off.
Maryland (8-0), enjoying its highest ranking since 2016, flew home Sunday with the Orlando Invitational trophy in tow following an impressive 84-63 win over Marquette in the title game. The Terrapins don't have much time to prepare for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and Notre Dame (6-1) as the Fighting Irish come to College Park on Wednesday night.
The Terrapins are coming off their best showing of the season, the defense shutting down Marquette's Markus Howard, the national scoring leader, and the offense rolling to 84 points.
"I've been waiting for that, more of a complete game out of us," Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. "All started on the defensive end, and except for about a five-minute stretch when we let our offense affect our transition defense because we were missing open shots against the zone, our defense was terrific."
Senior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. led the way down south, scoring 30 points in the opening win against Temple, then 20 against Harvard and finally 22 against Marquette. He and Darryl Morsell helped shut down Howard, who had scored 91 points in his first two Invitational games. Howard finished with just six points but is still averaging 26.
Morsell was a defensive key, but he also had 17 points and 10 rebounds, operating inside and on the baseline versus the Warriors' zone defense and helping Maryland pull away.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish watched it all on television, staying home over the holiday to polish their game and get ready for the marquee matchup with Maryland on the road. Notre Dame took a 91-66 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 26, the culmination of a six-game homestand for the Irish and a game that saw the Irish find their form on offense.
"We threw a couple in, we threw a couple of shots in tonight," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said postgame. "It's good to see us throw it in there and make some good ones and share the ball. (Dane) Goodwin and (Nate) Laszewski coming off the bench and being aggressive are going to be important for us moving forward. Hopefully, they're more confident to do it regularly."
Laszewski, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, had 16 points in 18 minutes, and sophomore swingman Goodwin scored 15 points. No doubt the bench will play a big role as two teams that like to run hook up at Maryland.
The Terrapins, belying their nickname, love to run and are averaging 81 points per game with four players in double figures -- Cowan (17.1), forward Jalen Smith (13.4), guard Eric Ayala (10.9) and emerging guard Aaron Wiggins (10.8). Morsell is at nine points per game. The Terps routinely go nine or 10 deep off the best bench in Turgeon's tenure.
Senior forward John Mooney (14.3 points and 13.0 rebounds) leads the Fighting Irish but gets a lot of help from senior guard T.J. Gibbs (12 points per game) and Goodwin (10.9 ppg). Prentiss Hubb chips in with 9.9 points per game for Notre Dame, which is scoring 75.4 per contest.
Keep an eye on veterans Mooney and tough-as-nails fellow senior Juwan Durham operating inside against Maryland's young front line of 6-10 sophomore Smith, 6-8 sophomore Ricky Lindo Jr. and 6-10 freshman twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell.
Following the big game on ESPN, the Terrapins open Big Ten Conference play Saturday at home against Illinois. Notre Dame, which fell in an early-season ACC game at North Carolina, hosts Boston College in its conference home opener on Saturday.
--Field Level Media