Where and When: RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.; 6:00
Where to Watch: ESPNU; I would expect you could fish around for a stream (FirstRowSports, etc.) if you need to
Line: Vegas: Wolfpack -10 KenPom: Wolfpack by 15, 12% chance of Maryland victory
- And the starting lineup is...? It's a good question. If Maryland stays with their usual starting five, 6-0 (maybe) Terrell Stoglin, whose defensive play has oft been questioned, will be forced to guard someone at least five inches taller than him, if not six. I wouldn't be surprised to see Stoglin start off on the bench to try to reduce the amount of time he has to play mismatched.
- Just how good is Alex Len? Len has looked like a world-beating, top-five-type recruit in his first three collegiate games. His first three collegiate games, though, came against Albany, Samford, and Cornell. He was the tallest player on the floor by a wide margin, and frankly should've done about as well as he did. His challenges will be much greater this evening, when he has to go against multiple talented big men.
- Going for double-digits. Maryland has won nine straight against N.C. State, dating back to 2007. (Seven of them, for what it's worth, came at the hands of Greivis Vasquez.) A win tonight, and they'd have a ten-game winning streak over the Wuffies.
- Gary-Yow Bowl, Pt. V. Maryland won in the first football game and the two basketball games, only suffering their first loss to Yow's Wolfpack after Randy Edsall blew a gigantic lead in the final game of the 2011 football season. This, though, is the first basketball matchup since Yow made her famous "sabotage" remarks about Gary Williams. So there's certainly some extra fire in it for the fanbases, if not the teams.
- Welcome to the conference. So, it's Mark Turgeon's first ACC game ever. Hopefully he starts it off with a bang. As an interesting sidenote, it starts off against a team that once wanted him badly.
The Opponent (An Overview): N.C. State comes into the game 11-4, having won five straight and demolishing their last opponent, Delaware State, to the tune of 78-44. They're ranked 50th in KenPom, 62nd in RPI, and 54th in the Sagarin ratings. They're for my money probably the third-most talented team in the ACC, with a host of former four- and five-stars dotting their roster. They're not a particularly quick team nor are they particularly slow, at 142nd nationally in raw possession numbers, and go only about nine-deep on a regular basis.
Expected Starting Five:
|Pe’Shon Howard, So., 6-3
|Lorenzo Brown, So., 6-5
|Terrell Stoglin, So., 6-0
|C.J. Williams, Sr., 6-5
|Sean Mosley, Sr., 6-4
|Scott Wood, Jr., 6-6
|Ashton Pankey, Fr., 6-9
|C.J. Leslie, So., 6-8
|Alex Len, Fr., 7-1
|Richard Howell, Jr., 6-8
I went with Stoglin at the 2 and Pankey at the 4; it could easily morph into Mosley at the 2, Nick Faust at the 3, and/or James Padgett at the 4. State is more or less set unless they pull a shocker and play Tyler Harris or DeShawn Painter, but I wouldn't expect that.
Red on red is obviously lame; Maryland is on the left, State on the right. (You can mouse over the bars to find out.) State has an advantage in every category save free throw rate, which of couse doesn't matter for Maryland because they don't hit their free throws anyway.
Matchup to Watch: The answer here is pretty easy, given their long-standing rivalry: Ryan Harrow vs. Terrell Stogl...oh, that's right, Harrow transferred to Kentucky. So that worked out well. With Stoglin unable to "cook" Harrow for third time in his career, we have to focus elsewhere, namely: Alex Len vs. N.C. State's frontcourt. If there's any position where Maryland could have a significant advantage, it's there. We don't know how good Len is against other ACC-level bigs; if he's just as good as he was against the mid-majors, Maryland has a viable chance. If N.C. State comes out ahead here ... well, it won't be so nice.
Keys in Cliches:
- Hit open shots on the perimeter. Uh dur, yeah, I know. This is like saying "score more points." (Which is also a good idea, by the way.) But fact of the matter is that N.C. State is one of the worst perimeter defense teams in the country and get lit up somewhat regularly. If Maryland is going to pull the upset in this one, they'll need to hit the open shots they inevitably get - and not just Stoglin, either.
- Control the glass - or at least tie the battle. This is a really interesting battle for me, and I sort of alluded to it above wit the Len-vs.-State-frontcourt thing. N.C. State has the second-best offensive rebounding % in the ACC, which you'd think would be problematic for Maryland given their middling defensive rebounding stats. But they've looked a seriously better team on the glass since the emergence of Len, and they might be able to go toe-to-toe with the Pack on the boards. That'll be intriguing.
- For all that is holy, please make free throws. If you were watching the Duke-Georgia Tech game yesterday, you probably noticed that if Georgia Tech made its free throws, it would've won the game. That's one of those things: if you're going to pull an upset in the ACC, especially on the road, you have to hit freebies. We know that's been a kryptonite for Maryland in recent years.