Where and When: Dean Dome, Chapel Hill, N.C.; 7:00
Where to Watch: ESPN(!) / ESPN3.com
Line: Vegas: UNC -19.5 KenPom: UNC by 22, 4% chance of Maryland victory
- Round 2. Maryland lost to UNC the first time around by only nine, which was a better showing than expected, especially when you remember that they led by nine themselves in the second half. That said, losing by nine at home rarely translates into a road win, and I don't expect it to here.
- Stoglin slumping? Relatively speaking, I think he is. He's averaging 17 ppg over his last three, a good number but low for him; more importantly, he's 15-51 from the floor over those last three, good for only 29%. When your most important player is shooting 29% on 17 shots a game, you won't win too many. It's a balance - Maryland needs Stoglin's points to win, but if he keeps playing like this they're guaranteeing a loss by letting him gun.
- Road troubles. Maryland has famously won only a single road game this year, the win at Clemson. But their loss to Georgia Tech amplified their troubles away from the Comcast Center. I'm not eager to watch another trip away from College Park. A big reason for it may be Stoglin himself: he's averaging only 15 ppg over the last three road contests on 26% shooting. Being young and (presumably) easily rattled doesn't help.
The Opponent (An Overview): UNC is predictably intimidating, with as much as talent as anyone in the country this side of Kentucky: four players in their starting five are sure-fire first round NBA draft picks, and they have another on the bench in James McAdoo. There's not a thing they struggle with, save for free-throw shooting - in just about every other phase of the game, from three-point shooting to post play to perimeter defense, they're among the best in the country. They're also their usual runnin' Carolina selves, the fastest-paced team in the ACC and able to run almost anyone out of the building. Perhaps the biggest weakness might actually be a lack of depth: having lost Dexter Strickland to injury, the Heels only really run about seven deep these days, which is a really dangerous tactic when they run as much as they do. There's no backup point guard, either; four UNC players went upwards of 30 minutes last time around, and at the tempo they play that has to take a toll of some sort.
Expected Starting Fives:
|Terrell Stoglin (So., 6-0)||Kendall Marshall (So., 6-4)|
|Nick Faust (Fr., 6-6)||Reggie Bullock (So., 6-7)|
|Sean Mosley (Sr., 6-4)||Harrison Barnes (So., 6-8)|
|James Padgett (Jr., 6-8)||John Henson (So., 6-11)|
|Ashton Pankey (Fr., 6-9)||Tyler Zeller (Sr., 7-0)|
I assume Faust will man up with Marshall - remember that he did a great job of it last time, pressuring him and forcing six turnovers; only Florida State forced more. Of course that means Stoglin has to match up with someone 6-7, which isn't a recipe for success, but whatever. I imagine basically everything else will match up.
Did you really expect anything different? Maryland normally has an advantage on the offensive glass thanks to James Padgett but they got killed in that category last time, 18-12. If Maryland wins tomorrow, it'll be a surprise. As if we didn't already know that.
Matchup to Watch: I mentioned this before, but it's really a pretty big deal: Nick Faust vs. Kendall Marshall. When Maryland was winning last time around, it was largely because Faust was a nuisance on the perimeter and Marshall was turning the ball over so miserably: all six of his turnovers came in the first 23 minutes of the game, a period Maryland won by nine. He was flawless the other 17 minutes, and UNC won by 18. You're not going to disrupt Marshall all game long, but the more you can the better chance you stand at winning. Faust will be key to that, especially because Maryland is so reliant on Faust's offense as a secondary option as well.
Prediction: You never say no chance, because crazier things have happened than Maryland pulling off an upset over North Carolina, even on the road. (If Stoglin goes full-on #StogMode and Faust messes with Marshall for 30 minutes, perhaps they could pull it off.) But it'd take quite a bit, and I'm certainly not expecting it after they dropped a road game to Georgia Tech. UNC wins this one, and if I were a betting man that -19.5 line would look pretty appetizing, especially with Maryland's predilection to struggle down the stretch.