No. 3 Maryland Men's Basketball vs Illinois Prediction, Preview

Terrapin, Illini both start their first conference play of the season

Time & Date: Saturday, December 7, 2019, 5PM EST

Location: Xfinity Center, College Park, Maryland

TV Channel: ESP2

Both the Maryland Terrapins (9-0) and the Illinois Fighting Illini (6-2) are set to play in their first conference matchup of the season. Earlier this week, Maryland made easy work of a tough Notre Dame team in a 72-51 victory. Illinois made a strong attempt on a comeback but fell short in the loss to the Miami Hurricanes 81-79.

Getting to know the opponent

HC Brad Underwood

Prior to coaching at Illinois, he took Stephen F. Austin to three NCAA tournaments in his three years there. After that, he became the head coach for Oklahoma State in 2016 for one season and took them to the tournament as well. As for his tenure with Illinois, his team was disappointing with a combined 26-39 record the past two seasons. Now, his team is on the fast track to success with a solid 6-2 record.

C Kofi Cockburn

Cockburn is a freshman sensation for Illinois. He is averaging 16.3 points, 11 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. The 7-foot 290-pound player is arguably the best center in all of college basketball, making 62 percent of his shots. There are not many freshman college basketball players that are having as much success as him. 

G Ayo Dosunmu

The former four-star recruit is second on the team averaging 15.8 points per game. Despite leading the team with 10 steals, he also leads the team with 25 turnovers. 

G Andres Feliz

As a senior, he has made 52 percent of his shots from the field. He is second behind Cockburn in rebounds with 54. He has made a significant jump from last season, averaging 8.3 points in 2018 to 14.8 points this year. He has played a major role in the turnaround of Illinois men's basketball program.

G Trent Frazier

Maryland should try to keep Frazier away from the free throw line because he is converting 85.7 percent. He is normally relied upon to convert 3-points attempts as he made 16-of-36 from behind the arc so far. He provides Illinois with quickness and ability to make plays on fastbreak opportunities. 

Strength

Illinois is off to their best start in Underwood's third season with the team. The Fighting Illini are making 51.7 percent of their shots from the field, including 34.1 percent from behind the arc. They have already scored over 100 points twice this season against Hampton and Lindenwood. 

Cockburn and Frazier are the major defensive stoppers on the team. Both have played a big role in Illinois' breakout season as quality defenders and scorers.

Weakness

In their first game against a ranked opponent, Illinois lost to No. 12 Arizona 90-69. They even trailed 50-31 against Miami when they entered the half. They will be tested again against the No. 3 college basketball team in the country.

Prediction

Maryland continues to find ways to win game despite their slow starts to open games. Though Illinois had a lot of blowout victories this season, they are 0-2 against teams in the Pac-12 and ACC. It is clear that against good teams, the Fighting Illini struggle. The Terrapins own one of the deepest rosters in all of college basketball and have arguably the best defense. Maryland should be heavily favored to win this one.

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