Where: Dean Dome, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Where to Watch: FSN (CSN for locals)
Line: Vegas: KenPom: UNC by 6
- Must-win. There's no more mincing words. If Maryland loses this one, their only hopes will be in winning the ACC tournament. That's it. If they're getting in as an at-large, they're doing it with a win over North Carolina.
- Warning: awesome defense ahead. UNC is second in the nation in defensive efficiency and second in the ACC since conference play started. They give up a lot of points sometimes because of their pace, but the metric sites absolutely love them. We're talking better than FSU, and much better than FSU without Singleton.
- Battle of the freshman point guards. Terrell Stoglin, meet Kendall Marshall. Both have taken huge steps forward in their games in the past four-to-six games. We'll find out which is better today, and something tells me he'll be on the winning team.
- Track meet. Maryland has a fast tempo, but it's nothing compared to North Carolina, which is the tops in the conference. If Maryland tries to outrun the Tar Heels, they'll probably get beaten. I wouldn't mind if Gary Williams threw a curveball and slowed down, but I'm expecting a high-scoring, high-octane game.
- Something tells me we won't see a lot of three-pointers. Outside of Leslie McDonald, UNC is light on shooters. They hardly ever shoot from deep - they're 10th in the conference in the percentage of points they get from outside. And, of course, we all know Maryland's aversion to taking threes.
Keys in Cliches:
- Force UNC to shoot. If there's one thing the Tar Heels really don't do well, it's shoot. The fewer layups/inside shots they get, the more outside shots they take, the better it is for Maryland. The natural idea would be to go zone, but we'll see what Gary goes with.
- Win the turnover battle. This is always a key, no matter the sport, but it holds a special significance in this one. If Maryland turns the ball over a lot, that means a lot of easy breaks for UNC. Conversely, if Maryland can force turnovers - not an easy task against Marshall and UNC - they'll get easy breaks of their own, which is more than a little important given UNC's defensive prowess.
- Get some perimeter scoring. Logically, this will come from Stoglin, but I'm not picky. Teams that give UNC trouble usually have a dynamic perimeter scorer. Relying on Jordan Williams probably won't work. If Cliff Tucker or Sean Mosley wants to capture their UNC form, now would be a nice time.
|Terrell Stoglin (6-0)||Kendall Marshall (6-3)|
|Pe'Shon Howard (6-2)||Dexter Strickland (6-3)|
|Sean Mosley (6-4)||Harrison Barnes (6-8)|
|Dino Gregory (6-7)||John Henson (6-10)|
|Jordan Williams (6-10)||Tyler Zeller (7-0)|
Not sure if Howard will be starting, nor Mosley, but I'm guessing this is the lineup that will get the most amount of play for Maryland. And yes, they're at a massive height deficiency.
This is surprisingly close. It's almost dead even in all four, with Maryland holding the biggest advantage in eFG%. This'll be an interesting one.
Prediction: Absolutely crucial game, which makes me think Maryland will be fully ready to go. The metrics also match up pretty well for the Terrapins. But my confidence level is off-putting and makes me think this is a weird trap game of sorts. UNC by 4.
Just kidding. Maryland goes zone, it works, and the Terrapins win. Maryland by 3, Stoglin is the biggest reason, drops 19.
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