Now that the Terps are in that December lull following our run of big OOC games, I thought I would point out that the remaining five games of our pre-ACC schedule hold a few surprises and tests.
Most notably, you could argue that we will be facing the two best three-point shooting teams in the country in Eastern Kentucky and William & Mary. Both teams are shooting better than 40% from three-point range while attempting more than 45% of their shots from downtown.
Eastern Kentucky is the more daunting opponent, in my opinion, because they performed similarly all of last year, and besides beating a pretty good Akron team at a neutral site, they took Cincinnati to OT on the road. So far this year, their only big game was a competitive road loss to Pitt. The scary thing about EK is that they are incredibly efficient offensively. So far this season, they are shooting 41% on 3s and 55% on 2s. Their middling 75 PPG average is very misleading, because they slow the pace down more than just about anyone else. I have a feeling we'll need to use that extended zone like we did against 'Nova. Fortunately, EK is a poor rebounding team, so I have a feeling we'll win comfortably. But if they get on a roll offensively, watch out. They have six different guys hitting more than 40% on 3s.
William & Mary has been even better at shooting the three. They have used Ken Pomeroy's seemingly impossible magic formula - hitting more than 40% of your 3s while attempting more than half your shots from outside. The strange thing with W & M is that they were a terrible offensive team last year, and return many of the same guys who launched 3 after 3 but hit just 31% from there. They've been mediocre defensively, but played well enough in that department to hold Wake Forest under 40% shooting and beat them by 10 on the road. W & M does EK one better, with seven legit three-point shooting threats (38.5% and up).
Both of these teams tend to play zone defenses, though not very good ones, so that gives us something else to work on. I certainly hope and expect that none of these next five games will be nail-biters, but they should at least give us a good warm-up for the conference season.