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Maryland-William & Mary First Look: Closer Than You Might Think

Are you sleeping on William & Mary? Don't.

These guys, stupid mascot decisions and all, are legit. There's a reason they're beating Maryland in the Local Poll and have received some Top 25 votes - they're actually really good. They've only lost twice on the year - once to a very good Harvard team on the road and a close loss to UCONN in Storrs - and dropped Wake Forest in Winston-Salem by double-digits. They also beat some pretty good local teams in Richmond and VCU. They're for real.

When describing W&M's style of play, think of the traditional mid-major style: slower pace, good shooting, efficient offense, and zone defense. That's the Tribe to a tee.

Maryland has trouble with these types of teams historically, especially when they're good (and W&M is). Remember the NCAAT games against Butler and Davidson? They haven't done all too well against Gonzaga in recent years, either. This type of matchup tends to be pretty bad for the Terps.

There's plenty that W&M does well offensively. They're 22nd in the nation in 3 point shooting percentage and have five regular contributers at 40% or over from deep. They have a talented, experienced point guard in David Schneider. They rarely turn the ball over: they have the third fewest turnovers in the country so far, and the eighth best A/TO ratio. To sum it up, they're deadly from deep and rarely make mistakes.

Stopping them from making threes and forcing turnovers will be difficult tasks, but W&M have their fair share of flaws, too. Ironically enough, while not turning the ball over is their main strength, forcing turnovers is their main weakness: they just don't do it. They rank 280th in the nation in blocks (partially a product of lack of height) and a, frankly, pathetic 340th in the nation in steals. They don't have the athletic ability to grab either of them on a consistent basis.

Actually, defense as a whole is a problem. They're almost as bad on D as they are good on offense - almost, but not quite. They're still good enough to get wins (obviously) but they're definitely weak on that front. They aren't very athletic and rely on a soft zone instead of man-to-man. Depending on the zone, either Cliff Tucker or Adrian Bowie should be due for a big game.

On another end, their starting center is Marcus Kitts, who has good size at 6-9 but hasn't parlayed that into solid rebounding: he only grabs about six a game. Still, that's the best on the team, and that's indicative of W&M's rebounding troubles altogether. Now, Maryland has their own rebounding problems, so this is far from an advantage on the glass, but they won't be at a major disadvantage here. Maryland could use ten or so rebounds from Jordan Williams, and this is a situation where he could produce them.

If the few flaws I've mentioned - rebounding, poor defense - have instilled confidence in you, I'd advise against feeling good. They're able to slow the game down to minimize their flaws and keep it close, and the three pointer is always the great equalizer. This is a very good team, and Maryland will need a very good performance to beat them. Just ask Wake Forest.