Where and When: Gary Williams Court at Comcast Center, College Park, Md.; 8:00
Where to Watch: ACC Network, so check the affiliate list and local listings; if not on in your area, it'll be on ESPN3 (blackout)
Line: Vegas: Miami -2.5 KenPom: Miami by 4, 34% chance of Maryland victory
- Let's hope Round 2 lives up to Round 1. Only better, of course. The last matchup between these two was a two-overtime barnburner. It very well might've been the most entertaining game of the season. Only downsides: Maryland lost, and Mark Turgeon was ejected. (Which might've actually have been an upside.) Anyway, these two teams are familiar with each other, and it should make for a more interesting battle.
- Injuries: meet Kenny Kadji. Speaking of Round 1 ... last time, the Hurricanes were missing Kenny Kadji, their star big man. In the five games since, Kadji has averaged 14 points and 6 boards a game - a fairly big loss. And, of course, Maryland's lost Pe'Shon Howard. That's a pretty big net negative for Maryland, I'd say. (Speaking of Kadji, he's a 6-11 sniper: shooting 9/16 - 56% - from deep over the past five.)
- Fatigue. There were some complaints about Maryland's ridiculously short turnaround against Virginia - only about 38 hours - but it hasn't exactly been a long rest between Saturday and Tuesday, either. This is actually Maryland's third game in six days, which should start to test an already thin team.
- Big, at least for one of us. Okay, not us. Miami is firmly on the bubble, and with a road trip to N.C. State and a home date with Florida State still on the slate, need every win they can get. A loss at Maryland, even though the Terps are a fair bit above Wake Forest/Georgia Tech levels, could be devastating.
The Opponent (An Overview): As mentioned above, Miami is definitely a bubble team right now, and right now might be a bit on the outside. Still, they've at least met expectations in Jim Larranaga's first year, and may've slightly exceeded. A big factor has been Kadji, who's combined with Reggie Johnson to create one of the conference's most productive (and unique) frontcourts. But they're a well-balanced attack, also featuring talented and experienced guards. They lack quality 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 42nd in KenPom, 46th in Sagarin, and 47th in RPI.
Expected Starting Fives:
|Terrell Stoglin (So., 6-0)||Shane Larkin (Fr., 5-11)|
|Nick Faust (Fr., 6-6)||Malcolm Grant (Sr., 6-1)|
|Sean Mosley (Sr., 6-4)||Durand Scott (Jr., 6-5)|
|Ashton Pankey (Fr., 6-9)||Kenny Kadji (Jr., 6-11)|
|Berend Weijs (Sr., 6-10)||Reggie Johnson (Jr., 6-10)|
Larkin matched up with Stoglin last time around, and he did a pretty good job, but if memory serves it was Howard on Larkin a fair amount. I imagine Faust will match up with Larkin this time around, given that he's a point guard, and they'll give Grant to Stoglin given that Grant is more of a spot-up shooter who just needs a body in front of him. There are two real questions here, closely related: does Maryland keep the same frontcourt as the last two games, and what do they do against Johnson? Weijs obviously can't match up with the nearly 300 pound Johnson, though he wouldn't be a bad fit against Kadji; the only really good matchup for Johnson is Alex Len, and that's only because the height equalizes. Now that they'll need to have someone moderately athletic against Kadji, it'll be tougher this time around.
Miami looks like they have a fair advantage in the first two and a slight disadvantage at the third, but dear Juan they can't get to the line at all. And with Maryland at Comcast, you'd think they'd get a lot of calls. Question is, can they hit their freebies?
Matchup to Watch: I could go with Reggie Johnson here, but it's been awhile since we've recognized just how important Maryland's most important player really is, so we'll go with Shane Larkin vs. Terrell Stoglin. Larkin did a good job against Howard last time - very handsy - and will likely try to slow down Stoglin again. He's obviously critical to Maryland's offense, as we saw illustrated so well on Saturday: go for 14 in the first half and tie Virginia, go scoreless in the second half and get run out of the gym. Maryland needs points out of him consistently.
Prediction: I don't think I should feel all that confident, given that last time Maryland looked like they were going to get destroyed until that late run got them to two overtimes - and that was without Kadji. But for some reason I feel some strange optimism. Maryland is a little fresher than they were against Virginia and likely more focused. I'm not sure Maryland will win, but they'll put up a fight. I'll say the Terps pull it out in a close one for the purposes of this post.