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Believe it or Not, There's a Game Tomorrow

Much like Saturday's game did, the UMD-UNC game is starting to get lost in the rest of the big news surrounding the program. Then, it was the Williams/Worthington fiasco. Now, it's Lance Stephenson apparently very high on the Terps that is making me forget that they play North Carolina tomorrow.

UNC is a very, very good team. Don't let those losses early in conference play fool you - they are legit as legit gets. Their starting five pretty much takes every player in Maryland's and eats them with salt and butter. The matchup is far, far worse for Maryland than the Duke matchup was. I'm not expecting Maryland to actually lose by as much as they did against Duke, but I have trouble seeing the game actually being competitive.

UNC tends to rely on their offense to get things done, particularly their transition offense. Their defense is 11th in the ACC in terms of scoring, so Maryland should be able to put up some points.

The obvious answer to not letting them get into transition is to slow down the offense. The problem with that, of course, is that Maryland does much, much better when they push the attack themselves. Also, UNC will try to force Maryland to make quick shots, which will allow the Heels to get back into transition. If you've watched the Terps for any period of time this year, you'd have to think that they'll fall into that trap.

If Maryland is somehow able to slow UNC down into a half-court offense, Tyler Hansbrough will get most of the scoring opportunities. You don't need me to tell you about him, I'm sure. Starting point guard Ty Lawson is extremely careful with the ball, but not in a bad way - he has a 3.4 assist/turnover ratio, which is outstanding to say the least. He's also developed a very, very good outside shot. Their three other starters (Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, and Deon Thompson) are strong but relatively unremarkable. The rest of the team, fortunately, is pretty weak - by which I mean they would likely start for Maryland, but are weak for UNC.

If you're seeing a bit of a pickle, you're on track. It comes down to whether Maryland wants more to stop a strength or exploit a weakness. If they decide to try to take UNC out of their strong suit by holding the ball and forcing a half-court game, the pace is slower, which means the players are less likely to get tired. Starters would be able to stay in much longer in a half-court game. If they try to exploit the lack of bench depth, they'll find themselves playing into North Carolina's hands by taking quick shots (and probably some bad ones).

Everyone knows this, but Maryland isn't on the same level as UNC in any world, especially talent. If they expect to win this - and believe me, it's possible - it'll have to be a great performance by Maryland and a really crappy one by UNC. If UNC plays up to their potential, it's not even close.