Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland is set to take on the top-ranked Blue Devils in Durham.
What: Maryland travels to top-ranked Duke, two days from the Blue Devils' blowout loss to Miami.
Where + When: 1:00 pm at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, Nc.
Where to Watch: CBS
Line: Vegas: -11.5 KenPom: Duke - 25
Rivalry. Coach K decided to speak about Maryland recently, and, per usual, it was a bad idea. He said Maryland would be "outsiders" in the Big Ten, and complained about money-grabbing and a lack of loyalty. Some people, notably Dan Steinberg, took him to task for those comments, pointing out the simple hypocrisy for someone with a nearly eight-figure salary, endorsement deals and a national radio show to complain about the lack of "integrity" and an excess of "money-grabbing" in college sports.
ANYWAY, the "not our rivals" chant should be in full force today, as well as anything related to the conference move. This is one of the last trips Maryland will ever make to Cameron Indoor, so savor it, if you're into that kind of thing.
Point guard play. Ben B. wrote a nice piece about this already, but it looks like Dez Wells could be seeing some playing time at point guard, thanks to Pe'Shon Howard's recent struggles and Seth Allen's skillset leading him to more of a two. Wells as a towering, Magic Johnson-like point guard who can drive to the hoop at will sounds like only a great thing to me, but as of right now it doesn't sound like the coaches (or Wells himself) are confident enough to give him a significant amount of time.
Miami. Both Maryland and Duke traveled to Miami, and both came home with losses in their belts, frustrated with the Hurricanes' top-notch defense. The difference? Maryland also managed to play good defense in the game, limiting the final score to 54-57, while the Blue Devils completely fell apart, losing 90-63. That included a first half in which Miami outscored Duke 42-19, thanks to an eight-minute blue devil scoring drought.
Road blues. Both teams are winless on the road in ACC play - Maryland with the aforementioned loss to Miami and a loss to North Carolina, Duke with losses to Miami and North Carolina State. While the Terps also sport a home loss to Florida State, the Blue Devils are unbeaten at home, beating Wake Forest, Clemson and Georgia Tech in conference play and then-#4 Ohio State in non-conference play (not to mention then-#2 Louisville and then-#3 Kentucky on neutral courts). Maryland does have a non-conference road win, defeating Northwestern in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge (Duke played at home in the tourney).
The Opponent (An Overview)
Duke is currently the top-ranked team in the country, although that is likely to change soon, thanks to the recent blowout loss to Miami. The Blue Devils started out the season with 15 straight wins, including three over teams that were ranked in the top five at the time, but that streak came to a grinding halt when they lost to North Carolina State, on the road, by a score of 84-76. Duke rebounded nicely with a blowout win over Georgia Tech, and after the loss to the Hurricanes they will be looking to do the same against Maryland.
Ryan Kelly (13.4 ppg, 5.4 rbg, 52.1% from three), is out with an injured foot, and Andre Dawkins (8.4 points per game last season) is redshirting, but other than that the Blue Devils are pretty much healthy.
At point, Duke starts sophomore Quinn Cook, a local who spent three years at DeMatha before finishing his high school career at the Oak Hill Academy. Cook was a solid bench performer last year, but has stepped his game up in a starting role this season, averaging 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game against 2.2 turnovers per game. At shooting guard, the Blue Devils have senior Seth Curry. A transfer from Liberty University and the younger brother of Steph (and son of Dell), Curry is averaging 15.9 points per game on 43.3% shooting from deep.
Rasheed Sulaimon, a 6'4" freshman from Houston, starts at small forward. He led the team with 16 points against Miami, and is averaging 11.3 points per game this season. With Kelly out, former Maryland target Amile Jefferson will probably start. Jefferson, a 6'8 freshman from Philadelphia, started against Miami and scored 13 points with five rebounds.
There's always a Plumlee at center. This year, it's 6'10" Mason, who's having a breakout year, ranking third in Ken Pom's current Player of the Year standings. Averaging 17.3 points and a conference-best 11.4 rebounds per game, Plumlee leads the conference in six different categories and ranks in the top-ten in an astonishing 35 (out of 57).
Expected Starting Fives:
|Pe'Shon Howard (Jr., 6-3)||Quinn Cook (So., 6-1)|
|Dezmine Wells (So., 6-5)||Seth Curry (Sr., 6-2)|
|Nick Faust (So., 6-6)||Rasheed Sulaimon (Fr., 6-4)|
|Charles Mitchell (Fr., 6-8)||Amile Jefferson (Fr., 6-8)|
|Alex Len (So., 7-1)||Mason Plumlee (Sr., 6-10)|
I think Maryland tries to roll out MVPe' for experience purposes in such a hostile environment, but are forced to go back to the Wells-Allen guard duo not far into the game.
Matchup to Watch:
Len vs. Plumlee. Len has actually been the more efficient offensive player (don't let the totals fool you, Plumlee has played a lot more minutes), but Plumlee is one of the best defensive rebounders in the country, bringing in over a quarter of his opponents' missed shots. Len has been the superior shot blocker, but Plumlee is averaging nearly a steal per game - a skill Len does not really possess.
Duke 68, Maryland 62. The Terps make some early mistakes, falling behind by double-digits, but use a strong second-half defensive effort to climb back into it. The Blue Devils hold on, but the game is closer than expected.