Where and When: Gary Williams Court at the Comcast Center, College Park, Md.; 9:00
Where to Watch: ACC Network, so check the affiliate list; will also be on ESPN3, but it doesn't look like it'll be on theACC.com
Line: Vegas: Maryland -9.5 KenPom: Maryland by 10, 83% chance of victory
- Improving Eagles. Want proof that almost anything is possible in the ACC? Boston College, one of the least talented ACC teams in recent memory, has already won three games in the conference, and have lost by single digits at Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech, and against N.C. State. BC isn't very good in terms of talent or experience, but they're getting better almost every game and Steve Donahue has done a very good job in a pretty difficult situation.
- Tweetgate ramifications? Remember the Terrell Stoglin playing time Twitter incident? Mark Turgeon has been adamant that it isn't a big deal, and I'm inclined to believe him. Still, it'll be interesting to watch what happens with Turgeon and Stoglin, especially as it relates to playing time and demeanor. Worth keeping an eye on.
- Ernie Graham honored. The first of two rafter raisings in the month of February, Terp legend Ernie Graham will see a "banner" (ie, jersey) raised before the game. Well deserved.
- Make it count. Maryland's schedule the rest of the way: at Virginia, Miami, at Georgia Tech, at UNC, Virginia. It's very possible that Maryland could go winless over that five-game stretch, with @ GT the only game they even have a chance at being favored going into. A home date with arguably the worst the ACC has to offer cannot be passed up. If Maryland's ever going to put together a full 40 minutes and close out a team, it'd be nice to do it tonight.
- Injuries. Both squads are missing key players: Patrick Heckmann is out for Boston College with mono and isn't expected back anytime soon, while Maryland is of course missing Pe'Shon Howard. While neither injury is new, both squads will be without big pieces that are worth mentioning.
The Opponent (An Overview): It's funny to look back at the summer and see people trying to figure out if BC would win more than one ACC game. Of course, they passed that mark in three games, shocking everyone with close home wins over VT and Clemson. They fell back to earth since - they've won only one in the last eight - but did recently beat a very good Florida State team, a win that makes no sense and should give you some healthy respect for the opposition. This is a very young team, and they don't have a lot of elite high-end talent, which is why their record is pretty impressive.
They have two real weapons: defense, and the three-pointer. They're not fantastic in either area, but it's just how they play. Defensively, I haven't seen enough to know if it's a zone, a packline, or just a traditional, but low-pressure, man-to-man, but they rarely foul and have a relatively solid defensive eFG%, mostly based out of their strength defending the three. (So I'm guessing it isn't a packline). They're far from a team of snipers but Donahue is a three-point guy and they rely on it heavily, getting nearly 40% of their points from treys - the most in the ACC. As you might expect, they're sloooooooooow, so Maryland might try to push the tempo a bit. And, lastly, they're very inexperienced - by KenPom, the second-least experienced team in the country.
Expected Starting Lineups:
|Terrell Stoglin (So., 6-0)||Jordan Daniels (Fr., 5-9)|
|Nick Faust (Fr., 6-6)||Lonnie Jackson (Fr., 6-4)|
|Sean Mosley (Sr., 6-4)||Matt Humphrey (Jr., 6-6)|
|James Padgett (Jr., 6-8)||Ryan Anderson (Fr., 6-8)|
|Ashton Pankey (Fr., 6-9)||Dennis Clifford (Fr., 7-0)|
This should be fairly obvious: Stoglin on Daniels, Mosley on Jackson, Faust on Humphrey, Padgett on Anderson, Pankey on Clifford. Done.
The big question for Maryland: how much Alex Len, and when? With a seven-footer in the lineup for Boston College, it would be a traditional time for Maryland to counter with a tree of their own. Consider, too, that Pankey really struggled against Duke. It might be time for Mark Turgeon to make that switch. The other question I'm really interested in: will Mychal Parker see an uptick in playing time after the big game against Duke? I'm be happy with it.
Essentially a dead heat in eFG%, fairly sizable Maryland advantages elsewhere. I was getting at this point earlier, but unless BC gets crazy hot from outside or can completely clamp Maryland down - which, I imagine, would involve completely shutting down Terrell Stoglin - the Terrapins should be sizable favorites. Get points from Stoglin, win. I'll put my money on him.
Matchup to Watch: I could go any number of ways here, since there's no natural foil on BC for Stoglin. But we'll go with Maryland's hot hand against BC's best scorer: Nick Faust vs. Matt Humphrey. Can Faust replicate his strong Duke performance? If so, is it a stretch to say Maryland may've finally stumbled upon a legitimate secondary scorer? We know he'll have his hands full on the other side: Humphrey is a bit of a chucker but leads BC in scoring with about 10 ppg, and he hasn't scored less than 13 in his last five. They'll ride him into the ground if they can. A strong performance by Faust on both ends of the floor might go so far as to put this one in the bag for Maryland. Actually, I'll go even further: if Faust can get to double-digits in points and put in a strong shift against Humphrey, assuming that's the matchup, I can't really see how the Terrapins lose this one.
Prediction: I haven't felt this confident about a Maryland win since the non-conference schedule. That doesn't mean it'll be easy - BC has been a fighter and is more than capable of winning this game - but they don't have anyone who can single-handedly slow or match Stoglin and lack Maryland's talent and experience. If BC wins, Maryland will almost certainly be able to look at themselves for blame. After the tough game at Duke last Saturday, there are obviously some hard feelings around the team, and I'm pegging Maryland to bounce back and take things out on BC. Not quite double-digits for the margin, but it'll feel like it.