Maryland-Miami preview: Looking for points against another defensive dynamo

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Terps grab a key victory over the defending ACC champions?

Maryland has now lost two games in a row and four of their last five in ACC play, so it's pretty safe to say the season isn't going too great. They have an opportunity for a very winnable game Wednesday night, however, hosting a Miami team that is 2-5 in conference play and is the only ACC team to lose to Virginia Tech this season. Tip-off is scheduled for Wednesday, January 29 at 9 p.m. ET on the ACC Network.

Players to watch

Rion Brown, 6'6", senior. The team's leading scorer, Brown shoots more three pointers than anyone on the team, but doesn't make a terribly high percentage of them. He's much more effective closer to the hoop, but curiously does not draw a lot of fouls while doing so. He's also the team's leading rebounder, at just 6.3 per game,

Garrius Adams, 6'6", senior. You think Maryland has redundancy problems? Miami has two 6'6" seniors who start and shoot a lot of three pointers without hitting many. Adams hits even less than Brown -- Brown shoots 32.6%, while Adams is at a 24.7% clip. Unlike Brown, he doesn't provide much on the offensive boards, but he's a huge threat defensively, leading the team in steals while still avoiding getting into foul trouble.

Donnavan Kirk, 6'9", senior. Yes, despite losing all five starters last season, Miami still starts three seniors. Kirk plays center, and is their most able offensive rebounding threat, as well as being a fine scoring option on the inside. He's another big-time defensive player, and he's among the nation's best in blocking shots.

Manu Lecomte, 5'9", freshman. Tiny point guard alert! Lecomte has a solid assist rate, but is very much still a freshman and turns the ball over quite a bit.

Tonye Jekiri, 7'0", sophomore. Despite his size, Jekiri plays quite a bit of power forward (to Kirk's center). Unsurprisingly, he grabs a lot of rebounds on both ends of the floor, but is their least effective offensive player. He shoots terribly from the free throw line and just adequately from two-point range, but his size alone allows for second chance opportunities on offense and rejected shots on defense.

Davon Reed, 6'6", freshman. With forward James Kelly out, Reed is the team's leading three-point shooter, at 36.8% from beyond the arc. That's always relevant for a Maryland team that has struggled to consistently guard on the perimeter, and Reed (along with Brown and Adams) is certainly a candidate to randomly go off and score 23.

Strengths

Defense, defense, defense. Miami is one of the best in the nation at preventing you from scoring, and haven't allowed an opponent to score at least 70 since an overtime loss to George Washington in November.

No fouls. The Hurricanes are also ridiculously adept at not sending their opponents to the line and keeping their players out of foul trouble, which could certainly make a difference at the end of a tight game.

Weaknesses

No James Kelly. His counting numbers don't say much (7.7 points per game, 4.4 rebounds), but he's been their most effective offensive player, their best three-point shooter and their second-best defensive rebounder when he's been on the floor.

Offense. They don't shoot very well (and take a high volume of three pointers, which should sound familiar from many a Maryland loss this season), and nearly never make it to the free throw line.

Prediction

KenPom prediction: Maryland, 62-58, with the Terps holding a 59% chance of winning.

Our prediction: Miami, 72-59.

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