Maryland hosts Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge looking to extend its season-opening winning streak to eight games, and the No. 22-ranked Terrapins have found a way to deliver in the clutch. Five of Maryland’s victories have come by six points or fewer, including a 69-68 triumph over Kansas State in Saturday’s Barclays Classic title game.
Guard Melo Trimble is averaging 21.1 points per game and earned tournament MVP honors, scoring 31 points in Maryland’s overtime victory over Richmond on Friday and hitting the game-winning layup with 6.6 seconds left Saturday. The Panthers bring a three-game winning streak into Tuesday’s matchup and have experienced their share of close games as well. Four of Pittsburgh’s six contests have been decided by nine points or fewer, but a season-high 11 3-pointers provided separation in Friday’s 76-63 victory over Morehead State. Forward Michael Young scored 20 points in the win and is averaging 23.3 points per game.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (5-1): The combination of Young and guard Jamel Artis (19.3 points per game) have sparked the Panthers’ hot start, and guard Cameron Johnson shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range Friday. Young leads the Panthers with 8.2 rebounds per game and 1.5 blocks per contest, and is shooting 58 percent from the field. Point guard Chris Jones owns one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the country, recording 20 assists against three turnovers (6.67 ratio).
ABOUT MARYLAND (7-0): Freshman Justin Jackson earned all-tournament team honors, leads the Terrapins in rebounding (7.1 per game) and ranks second in scoring (11.7 points per game). The return of 7-1 forward Michal Cekovsky has helped Maryland’s interior game, the junior averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first three games. Maryland averages 30.4 free throws per game and makes 22 per contest, both numbers among tops in the nation.
1. Either Young or Artis have led Pittsburgh in scoring in 33 of the past 39 games.
2. A victory Tuesday will give Maryland its first 8-0 start since 2006-07.
3. Seniors Young, Artis, Chris Jones and Sheldon Jeter have scored 68.6 percent of Pittsburgh’s points.
PREDICTION: Maryland 78, Pittsburgh 75