Testudo Times Roundtable
Week of 2/22
Q: March is around the corner. That means the NCAA Tournament is approaching. What is your confidence level in both the men's and women's basketball teams making deep postseason runs?
Brian B: It depends what one defines as a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. If the Elite Eight is to be considered a ‘deep run', then I have no doubt that the women's team has a legitimate shot at making a deep run, as they wouldn't likely run into a team that could challenge them until then. However, my confidence for the men to make it out of the first weekend is 50/50 depending on what seed they end up with and what teams they get matched with. Their recent play has me doubting them more than I probably should, so perhaps we should revisit the issue in a a couple of weeks.
Todd: I'm going to agree with Brian, certainly with regard to the women's team. They will play the first two rounds in College Park which essentially passes them through to the Sweet 16. Beyond that, their progress will depend on their seeding and region. On the men's side, I don't feel the same level of pessimism that I've seen expressed elsewhere by the commentariat. In a one and done tournament, the best team doesn't always win, meaning the Terps could get upset by a lesser team or could surprise a better one.
Noah: I think this men's team reminds me a little of Kentucky when the Harrison's first arrived. They didn't put it all together until the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. I can see this group making a deep run. The women's team certainly has the talent and experience to make a deep run as well.
Q: What is Maryland men's basketball's biggest weakness as the team heads toward postseason play?
Brian B: It is pretty difficult to narrow in on just one weakness, but I'd say that their perimeter defense has been the most frustrating thing. Over the past three games, teams have shot 32-72 from behind the arc, about 45 percent. Obviously, rebounding has been a constant nagging issue, but giving teams 25-30 open looks from three is going to bite you more in the postseason than giving up offensive rebounds (probably).
Todd: In addition to the perimeter defense and rebounding that Brian cites, turnovers continue to be a problem. I think we also have to have some concern about Melo Trimble's struggles particularly if they're related to a chronic injury.
Noah: Perimeter defense, rebounding and turnovers are certainly all important. Melo Trimble is the key in my mind. The Terps can overcome some of those other issues when he plays like the star that he is.
Q: What is Maryland women's basketball's biggest weakness as the team heads towards postseason play?
Brian B: This is a bit of a generalization, but the women have more or less cruised to victory in their 25 wins. In their three losses, the Terps have averaged about 22 turnovers. They'll most likely find themselves up against some elite competition come March and cutting down the turnovers in those games has to be a point of emphasis.
Todd: I'd have to say my biggest concern is guard play. Maryland gets good play from their guards, but I've yet to see the elite guard play that usually allows a Final Four run. I don't think it's an accident that Maryland's three losses have come to the teams they've played that have the best backcourts. I know for UConn so much of the focus is rightly on Breanna Stewart, but Moriah Jefferson is one of the best point guards in college basketball.
Noah: Not every team needs elite guard play when they have a dominant front court like Maryland does. It feels like I've been saying this all season long. Maryland needs to limit their turnovers.
Q: Maryland men's lacrosse was trailing High Point at halftime before the Terps rallied to win, 15-10. Any cause for concern or is this simply a team looking rusty in their first game action of the season?
Brian B: No cause for concern. Early season games in all college sports aren't generally the best indicator of how good teams will be as the season progresses, plus they ended up winning by five.
Todd: There's always a disadvantage to playing your first game against a team that has a game or two under its belt. I think that was partially the case against High Point. Additionally, High Point isn't a pushover opponent. If you don't believe me, just ask Virginia who lost to them in overtime Tuesday night.
Noah: Todd is right. No. 10 Virginia hadn't lost a mid-week game since March of 2001! Even though High Point is only in its fourth season of men's lacrosse, they are very dangerous. Even new programs have to be taken seriously. Every game matters and every team is tough. I'll go with rust over concern. I think that opening game said more about High Point than it did about Maryland.
Q: We have a No. 1 vs. No. 5 matchup when top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Maryland women's lacrosse heads to Chapel Hill to take on UNC in a rematch of last year's utterly thrilling national championship game. I'll put the over/under at Maryland (-3.5). Are you taking the over or the under?
Brian B: It'd be quite the accomplishment if Maryland won by more than three and a half goals if that is what you are asking. Crossing my fingers for that ‘half goal'.
Todd: Not. Going. There.
Noah: Brian B., I'm going to have to introduce you to FlaTerp and his gambling column at some point. This question, as always, is Todd's kryptonite. UNC still has the 2015 National Goalie of the Year, but a huge key is that Maggie Bill, a two-sport star for UNC, is redshirting this season. Maryland had a tough time with her in last year's NCAA Final. UNC's offense is potent, but their defense might be suspect. Considering the rivalry and its history, I'll take the under.