Maryland-Florida Atlantic preview: Back to the cupcakes

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

After some non-conference tests and even an ACC game, Maryland gets to host an easy opponent in Florida Atlantic.

Maryland survived their first stab at conference play this season, but it's back to the non-conference schedule for the final stretch before ACC play truly begins, as the Terps take on a Florida Atlantic team that has struggled this season. The game will tip off Saturday, December 14, at 2 p.m. ET in College Park.

The Owls are 3-7, with just a 2-7 record against Division I opponents. They lost at Boston College 82-79 -- the only common opponent between the two teams -- and sport wins over Central Florida and Jacksonville. Florida Atlantic isn't expected to be contender in Conference-USA this season, which suits Maryland just fine -- it's been a month since they've played a true cupcake at home.

Players to know

Pablo Bertone, senior, 6'4" guard -- Florida Atlantic's offense has struggled, and Bertone is the focal point of that offense. He takes over a third of the team's shots while he's on the floor and plays nearly 90% of their minutes -- extremely high numbers. While he's scoring 20 points per game, his effective field goal percentage would rank eighth on the Terrapins, and he's shooting under 30% from three despite taking nearly six shots from deep every game.

Jackson Trapp, sophomore, 6'4" guard -- Trapp also takes a high shot load, and is shooting at about the same rate as Bertone, with his abilities more suited towards the long ball. Unlike Bertone, Trapp is not a threat to drive inside and get to the line.

Justin Raffington, junior, 6'9" forward -- Rattington is not a very good offensive player, and despite getting to the line a lot he's shooting just 36.8% from there, but he's a top-notch rebounder. This season, he's averaging 7.6 rebounds per game, rebounding 12.3% of the Owls' missed shots and 21.5% of opponents' missed shots while he's on the floor.

Dragan Sekelja, senior, 7'0" center -- Sekelja missed the Owls' loss to DePaul with injury, and it would be significant if he did not play in this one as well. The big man is an even better defensive rebounder than Raffington, hauling in 23.4% of opponents' missed shots, and is also a markedly better offensive player (thanks largely to his adequate free throw shooting).

Javier Lacunza, sophomore, 6'9" forward -- Stretch four alert! Lacunza has the highest offensive rating on the team, yet is used sparingly, playing the least minutes of any contributor on the team (likely due to poor defensive ability). When he's been able to shoot, he's been deadly, hitting eight of 14 three-point attempts.

Kelvin Penn, junior, 6'6" forward -- Penn plays a lot, but is almost never turned to for offense (10% of the team's shots while he's on the floor) despite a solid effort from the floor (he's shooting 67.7%). He's a good offensive rebounder and an excellent shot blocker (two per game), but gets called for a ton of fouls.

Strengths:

Rebounding. Florida Atlantic gets a fair amount of offensive rebounds, but has been very good at limiting those same second chance opportunities on the other end. They currently rank 95th in the nation in opponent offensive rebound percentage. Maryland, by comparison, ranks 18th in offensive rebound percentage, so it should be a good matchup inside.

Shot-blocking. Penn is one of the best shot blockers in the country, and Raffington contributes with some as well.

Weaknesses:

Offense. They're averaging under 70 points per game, and their two players with the highest offensive ratings (Lacunza and Penn) are also the players that are used the least. Say what you will about Maryland's offensive gameplan this year, but it doesn't look that bad.

Turnovers. The Owls hold on to the ball adequately, but they don't take it away. Their turnover percentage ranks 300th in the nation, and their steal percentage is 304th.

Predictions:

KenPom's prediction: Maryland 79, Florida Atlantic 62. 94% chance Maryland wins.

Our prediction: Maryland 83, Florida Atlantic 67.

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