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TCU Basketball Preview Series: Maryland/Illinois State

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We are counting down the days to the start of the 2015-2016 TCU Basketball season with daily previews of the Frogs' opponents. Today we look at the two potential teams that TCU could play in the second game of the Cancun Challenge.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Day five of our TCU Basketball preview brings the first unknown opponent for the Frogs. In the second game of the Cancun Challenge, TCU will either face the Maryland Terrapins or the Illinois State Redbirds, depending on what happens in the first game. While both formidable opponents, Maryland and Illinois State are not exactly on the same level in the college basketball landscape. Let's take a look!

Game 5: Maryland Terrapins -OR- Illinois State Redbirds

Game Information

Date: Wednesday, November 25
Time: 5:00 PM -OR- 7:30 PM
Location: Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya - Cancun, Mexico
TV: CBS Sports Network

Know the Foe

Maryland

SB Nation: Testudo Times
Conference: Big Ten
Location: College Park, Maryland
Head Coach: Mark Turgeon

2014-2015 Record: 28-7 (14-7)
Postseason: NCAA Third Round
Key Losses: G Dez Wells, G Richaud Pack, F Evan Smotrycz
Key Returners: G Melo Trimble, F Jake Layman, G Jared Nickens
New Additions: G Rasheed Sulaimon, C Diamond Stone, G Kent Auslander

Illinois State

Conference: Missouri Valley
Location: Normal, Illinois
Head Coach: Dan Muller

2014-2015 Record: 22-13 (11-7)
Postseason: NIT Second Round
Key Losses: G Daishon Knight, C Reggie Lynch, G Bobby Hunter
Key Returners: G DeVaughn Akonn-Purcell, F Deontae Hawkins, G Paris Lee
New Additions: F Roland Griffin, G Keyshawn Evans, C Daouda Ndiaye

Summary

Maryland

The Terrapins enter the season with sky-high expectations. After adding Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon to an already impressive roster, some outlets have pegged the Terps as the #1 team in the nation this preseason. Sulaimon was dismissed from the Blue Devils program in January, however he graduated from Duke and is immediately eligible at Maryland as a graduate student. He is expected to immediately fill the void left by former Terrapin and current Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dez Wells.

Sulaimon will join Melo Trimble and Jake Layman in what will be an impressive front court for the Terps. Trimble led the team in scoring last season with 16.2 points per game. Layman wasn't far behind with 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. If it all comes together, Maryland could be a frontrunner for both the Big Ten title and a National Championship.

Illinois State

Illinois State will have a tough time replacing two of their top players after a 22-13 season that came to an end in the second round of the NIT. The Redbirds lost Daishon Knight, who averaged 14.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, to graduation and Reggie Lynch, who averaged 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, to a transfer to Minnesota. DeVaughn Akonn-Purcell, however, returns for ISU. He led the team in rebounds with 5.6 per game, while also dropping in 12.8 points. As a senior, he looks to anchor another Postseason run for the Redbirds.

Defense keyed a successful 2014-2015 campaign for Illinois State. The team held opponents to 62.0 points per game while averaging 4.3 blocks and 7.3 steals per contest. Freshman center Daouda Ndiaye could make an early impact for an already solid defensive unit.

Prediction

Maryland

Maryland 80, TCU 65

Maryland presents numerous issues for TCU. While the Frogs will likely have a stout defense this season, it will be very difficult to contain the Terps' frontcourt of Trimble, Sulaimon, and Layman. Add that to a Maryland defense that is just as talented as TCU's, and it could be a long day for the Frogs. Should it take place, this matchup would be a very good early-season challenge for the Frogs. At the end of the day, there's no shame in losing to a preseason #1 pick.

UM Preview Graphic

Illinois State

TCU 70, Illinois State 62

Either way, I think TCU leaves Cancun with a 1-1 record. If the Frogs fall to Rhode Island, they should be able to salvage a win against Illinois State (assuming Maryland defeats the ISU). A big element to watch in this one would be how the Frogs offensive attack handles the Redbird defense.

ISU Preview Graphic

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Opponent Team Previews:
Game 1: Southeastern Louisiana
Game 2: Houston Baptist
Game 3: South Dakota State
Game 4: Rhode Island
Game 5: Maryland /Illinois State
Game 6: SMU (10/19)
Game 7: Colgate (10/20)
Game 8: Washington (10/21)
Game 9: Prairie View A&M (10/22)
Game 10: Abilene Christian (10/23)
Game 11: Bradley (10/24)
Game 12: Delaware State (10/25)
Games 13 & 24: Oklahoma State (10/26)
Games 14 & 25: West Virginia (10/27)
Games 15 & 20: Texas (10/28)
Games 16 & 29: Baylor (10/30)
Games 17 & 23: Kansas (10/31)
Games 18 & 28: Texas Tech (11/1)
Games 19 & 27: Iowa State (11/2)
Game 21: Tennessee (11/3)
Games 22 & 31: Oklahoma (11/4)
Games 26 & 30: Kansas State (11/5)