Maryland basketball vs. North Carolina: Previewing the ACC tournament semifinal


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (21-11) vs. North Carolina (23-9).

When: Saturday, 3 p.m.

Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

TV: WDCA-20, WNUV-54 in Washington-Baltimore area, ESPN in non-ACC country.

DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.

Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (second season, 39-26). Tar Heels – Roy Williams (10th season, 280-77).

Pomeroy ratings: Terps 55th, Tar Heels 26th.

RPI: Terps 62nd, Tar Heels 21st.

THE SCRIPT

Can Maryland continue its miracle in Greensboro with a third win over a third triangle team in three days? The Terps led the entire way in an impressive 83-74 win over Duke on Friday behind a career-high 30 points from Dez Wells, but they’ll have their hands full with a North Carolina group that steamrolled Florida State in the nightcap. The winner moves onto the ACC tournament final, to face the winner of North Carolina State and Miami. If Maryland loses, however, it’ll be a long flight back home to College Park, its fate likely sealed as an National Invitational Tournament team.

THE QUESTIONS

1. Withstand the pressure? North Carolina relies on a relentless defense from its four-guard lineup, which might be in jeopardy given the eight stiches P.J. Hairston received in his left hand after Friday’s game against the Seminoles. Still, the Terps haven’t exactly handled pressure well this season, so their guards will need to handle the ball with care. Remember, point guard Pe’Shon Howard had seven turnovers against zero assists in 14 minutes when the Terps traveled to Chapel Hill on Jan. 19, but he turned in his most efficient effort of the season against Duke.

2. Work inside? With Hairston likely a game-time decision, Coach Roy Williams hinted that North Carolina may revert to its more traditional, two-forward lineup. This works to Maryland’s advantage. Turgeon’s group didn’t handle the four-guard set well against the Tar Heels at Comcast Center in its penultimate regular season game, but a forced front-court battle will give Alex Len more room to work and more breathing room on the defensive end too.

3. Defend the perimeter? The Tar Heels shot the lights out against Florida State, drilling 45.5 percent of their three-pointers and 49.2 percent of their field goal attempts. Hairston was 5 for 6 and dropped a game-high 21 points. Reggie Bullock didn’t miss on two-pointers. (5 for 5 inside the arc, 2 for 6 outside). Duke was ice-cold Friday night, but the Terps can’t bank on encountering another frigid opponent.

THE STATS

14.2: Turnovers forced by UNC, tops in the ACC.

35: Maryland turnovers in their two meetings this season, both Tar Heels wins.

51: Dez Wells’s points through two ACC tournament games.

THE QUOTES

“Somebody called him a baby LeBron. It looked similar. Everyone knows Dez is almost unstoppable going to the hole. Transition, whenever he gets ahead,. He’s really good at finishing under control. Duke gives you a lot of lanes to drive, they usually like to step up and take charges, but he’s usually good at sliding to the left or right and avoiding charges. He’s the type of player that can usually have a good game against Duke, because that’s how their aggressive style is, if he’s in control and can execute.” – Pe’Shon Howard on Wells.

“You have to be good, you have to be lucky to beat a great tea, and we were a little bit of both. I’m just really proud of my kids.” – Turgeon.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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