When and Where: BankUnited Center, Miami, Fl.; 8:00
Where to Watch: ACC Network, so check your local listings and the affiliate list; if not on in your area, you can also watch online at ESPN3 or TheACC.com
Line: Vegas: Miami -10 KenPom: Miami by 12, 15% chance of Maryland victory
- History. It's, uh, not good. Maryland is only 3-7 against Miami since the Canes have joined the ACC, and 0-5 on the road.
- A different type of history. I don't normally tap Sean Mosley to go for 19 points, but if Sugar Sean can indeed reach that mark tonight, he'll score his 1000th career point - the 50th Terrapin in history to do so. He'd only be the eighth to get to 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists, and 120 steals.
- Turning points. Both of these teams will enter the game tonight at 3-3 in the ACC and tied for sixth place in the conference. The winner will get a crucial victory over a mid-tier conference foe, find themselves with a winning record in conference play, and receive a sizable boost to their bubble hopes. That said: this is a much more important contest for Miami, the home team with real NCAA Tournament ambitions, than Maryland.
- Signing day. Yes, today is important for another reason: it's national signing day, the be-all-end-all of recruiting days. Pete will be manning the fort today for all football recruiting news, not least of which will include decisions from D.J. Reader and Korren Kirven. If you have an aversion to the oblong ball, this may be your only discussion point of the day.
The Opponent (An Overview): Miami is about as close as Maryland to you can get without actually having "the Terrapins" as a mascot. They're breaking in a new coach, with Jim Larranagga finally taking the high-major jump from George Mason. They're not nearly as on the bubble as they'd like to be. And they actually have only had about ten games or so at full strength, getting back two contributors in games nine and ten. They have one of the best frontcourts in the ACC when at full strength, with two 6-10+ tanks that are both talented and productive. But they're a well-balanced attack, also featuring some talented guards. They lack post depth, however, and when their big men tire out or get in foul trouble they have to go very small. They rely pretty heavily on the three-pointer and run at a pretty slow pace, all things considered. They're 56th in KenPom, 61 in Sagarin, and 55 in RPI.
Expected Starting Fives:
|Pe’Shon Howard (So., 6-3)||Shane Larkin (Fr., 5-11)|
|Terrell Stoglin (So., 6-0)||Malcolm Grant (Sr., 6-1)|
|Sean Mosley (Sr., 6-4)||Durand Scott (Jr., 6-5)|
|James Padgett (Jr., 6-8)||Kenny Kadji (Jr., 6-11)|
|Ashton Pankey (Fr., 6-9)||Reggie Johnson (Jr., 6-10)|
Maryland's roster is more or less locked in, you'd feel: Alex Len is the only change I could see, and frankly I don't expect it after the way he's been playing lately. Miami's is also unlikely to see changes, though they have been giving a fair amount of playing time to Trey McKinney Jones off the bench. The good news is that Stoglin has a natural counterpart here with Larkin, an inexperienced guy with the same size as Stoglin; Howard will probably match up with Grant, and Mosley with Scott. The real question is how Maryland handles Miami's size, Johnson in particular. That's the one big reason I could see Len starting, but he should be getting major playing time regardless.
As expected, Miami wins the first two, Maryland wins three and four. Of course, Maryland doesn't hit enough free throws to make the free throw rate count as much as it should. Fun fact: Maryland gets a full quarter of their points from free throws, the seventh-highest percentage in the country. And that while shooting only 65% from the stripe, 10th in the ACC. Oh, to imagine a team with good free throw shooters.
Matchup to Watch: I'll say Pe'Shon Howard vs. Malcolm Grant. We all know what Howard can bring into Maryland's offense, but also what else we're looking to see out of him - namely, more being a floor general, less ill-advised threes. He'll almost certainly be matching up with Grant, who is Miami's leading scorer and, historically, a very good three-pointer. He'll have his hands full defensively, and a tall order offensively as well.
Prediction: This isn't an easy game for Maryland, and in all honesty it's one Miami should be winning fairly easily. That said ... I do think Maryland is good for a road upset in the ACC this season, and have a good feeling about this one. Reggie Johnson is still rounding into shape, and Maryland will look to attack him and get him off the floor - or, at least, Kadji. Once they do that, it becomes a battle of guards, and I'll take Terrell Stoglin over anyone in the conference - or, for that matter, the country. I'll take the Terps in a squeaker, 76-72.