When and Where: The Palestra, Philadelphia, Pa.; 11:00
Where to Watch: EPSNU
Line: Vegas: Temple -9.5 KenPom: Temple by 14, 13% chance of a Maryland victory
- How's that "only two assistants" thing going to work out? What with Dalonte suspended, Mark Turgeon will only have two assistants flanking him on the bench. Fortunately, Turgeon uses his director of basketball operations, Dustin Clark, in a very different way than Gary Williams did, almost as a fourth coach, so things shouldn't be too bad. Besides, I'm not sure Hill ever did that much coaching anyway. Still, it's an interesting piece.
- Road wins, anyone? Maryland has played two true road games. They lost both. That's not a great sample size given that they were the underdogs in both matchups, but hey, it is what it is. They'll be looking for their first one here.
- One more shot. At a big out-of-conference victory, that is. An upset road win over Temple wouldn't be huge - the Owls are sort-of sinking right now - but it would mean that their NCAA Tournament hopes are, inexplicably, still alive. And, should they go around 6-10 or 7-9 in the conference, it might be a deciding factor in getting them into the NIT.
- Injuries. Haven't heard official word on Sean Mosley's ankle or Temple big man Michael Eric's patella. There was chatter that Eric be returning against LaSalle a few days ago for the Owls; didn't happen. Now it sounds like he won't be ready to go today, either. His return would be huge for Temple, and his absence equally big for Maryland. We'll keep ears open. As for Mosley, last night he tweeted he was getting "treatment", so I think we can assume it's not at 100%. But we'll see.
The Opponent (An Overview): After a pretty successful year last season, Fran Dunphy's squad had to respond to loss of star big man and current Philadelphia 76er Lavoy Allen. Their frontcourt has taken as big a hit as expected - larger, actually, with the injury to Eric - but they've turned to a fantastic trio of guards to bring them back up to speed. They've already pulled off big wins over Wichita St., Villanova, St. Louis, and Duke, but they've also dropped a few head-scratchers, like Richmond and Dayton. They're 20th in RPI, 50th in KenPom, and 46th in Sagarin. They revolve around guard play: they're really good shooters and don't often turn the ball over, but their frontcourt deficiencies leave them vulnerable against really good rebounding teams or elite bigs. Dunphy is historically a slow-it-down coach, but Temple this year has been much quicker, pretty much in line with the Terrapins' pace.
Expected Starting Fives:
|Pe’Shon Howard (So., 6-3)
|Juan Fernandez (Sr., 6-4)
|Terrell Stoglin (So., 6-0)
|Ramone Moore (Sr., 6-4)
|Sean Mosley (Sr., 6-4)
|Khalif Wyatt (Jr., 6-4)
|James Padgett (Jr., 6-8)
|Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (Jr., 6-6)
|Alex Len (Fr., 7-1)
|Anthony Lee (Fr., 6-9)
Fernandez, Moore, and Wyatt, by virtue of all being the same size, can really rotate between the 1 and 3 amongst themselves, if need be. But unless Eric makes an unexpected return to the lineup, this almost certainly how the rosters will look for both clubs at the tip. The obvious question, of course, is who Stoglin will guard; I would guess he'd try to match up with Fernandez, who's really been struggling this year, but we'll have to wait and see.
Surprise! Temple has the advantage in eFG% and turnovers; Maryland has the advantage in rebounding and FT rate. Pretty much as expected, right down to the margins. This one will come down to who can better exploit the others' weakness and mitigate their own - that is, can Maryland neutralize their guards?
Matchup to Watch: I very nearly went with Len vs. Lee, because this is a rare opportunity for Olexiy to take a game over, or at the very least assert his will against a lesser opponent. In the end, I'll focus on a perhaps more important area: Sean Mosley vs. Khalif Wyatt. Wyatt's been playing out of his mind over the past few weeks, averaging 21.2 points per game over the last five. He slowed down a little with a 12-point game against LaSalle, but he's still the team's best three-point shooter at 42% on the year and 52% over that five-game stretch. Sugar Sean's defense will be big in this one.
Prediction: Much like the games against N.C. State and Florida State, Maryland's going to the venue of an opponent with a better resumé and, in all likelihood, more talent. If the Terrapins played them, oh, 10 times, they'd probably win 3 or 4 of them, so there's certainly a chance of an upset and in fact I wouldn't be surprised to see it one bit. But I can't say I'm expecting it. If Len and Padgett turn in big games in the interior Maryland might go so far as to become favorites; otherwise, I'm not sure they stand too much of a chance. I'll say the frontcourt turns in a good performance but just not good enough, and Temple wins in a squeaker 74-68.