Maryland basketball vs. No. 8 Duke: Previewing the game

February 15, 2014

(Getty Images)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (14-11, 6-6 ACC) at No. 8 Duke (19-5, 8-3 ACC)
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.
TV: ESPN (Dave O’Brien, play-by-play; Doris Burke, analyst).
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Third season, 56-39). Blue Devils – Mike Krzyzewski (34th season, 893-241).
Kenpom rating: Maryland 57th, Duke 3rd.
RPI: Maryland 74th, Duke 8th.

THE SCRIPT

And so, certainly for the final time as ACC members and possibly the final time in the foreseeable future, the Maryland men’s basketball team and the Duke men’s basketball team will square off during the regular season as conference foes. The Terrapins enter with a two-game winning streak against the Blue Devils, something that hasn’t happened since 2007, but neither of those victories last season came in Durham, where the Cameron Crazies will certainly have something cooked up for Maryland’s last trip. The Terps toppled their longtime rivals at Comcast Center last season, back when Duke was ranked No. 1 overall, but this looks like an entirely different group. Led by Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, the Blue Devils are the nation’s most efficient scoring offense and boast no shortage of complimentary threats. Maryland, meanwhile, is still searching for a boost during this disappointing season. At this point, any win against a better team would suffice, and what better way to conclude the matchup than with a road upset?

THE QUESTIONS

1) Keep up offensively? While Maryland hasn’t allowed more than 71 points over its past five games, Duke presents an entirely different channel. If Parker (19.2 points per game) and Hood (16.5 points per game), then it’s any of the other four players averaging at least 7.0 points per game who are filling up the box score. Simply put, the Blue Devils are going to score points, especially on their home floor. Whether Maryland keeps up will dictate its chances. This means more efficient shooting efforts from Seth Allen, Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman, and perhaps another super-human effort from Dez Wells, who dropped 30 during the ACC tournament as the Terps led wire to wire.

2) Handle the pressure? Duke’s defense is slightly above average nationally, but nothing exactly smothering. But Maryland also averages 12.92 turnovers per game (12.9 on the road) and has been known to buckle at crucial moments away from College Park. Particularly if Allen needs a breather, which he will for at least several minutes, the Terps need to hang tight with Wells, Nick Faust and Roddy Peters running the show. Allen, of course, isn’t absolved from focus. He hasn’t committed more than two turnovers in a game since returning to the floor. This would be a bad time to break that trend.

“They just flat get after you,” Coach Mark Turgeon said of Duke’s defense. “They pick you off when you get off the bus. Hopefully we’ll be able to handle our pressure. They’re playing small, they’re getting after you. Their defense is better.”

3) Contain Parker and Hood? Parker is rolling, with 50 points over the past two games, and has long since shed that midseason offensive lull. Hood has hit a slight rut lately, scoring just 17 points on 6 of 19 shooting during that span. The question is, who will guard them? Chances are Coach Mike Krzyzewski starts a big lineup with Parker and Hood at the three and four, because that means Smotrycz will be guarding one of them. Faust and Layman should draw primary Parker duties, with Dez Wells sprinkling in coverage here and there, but Hood could be in for a big day if Maryland’s less athletic posts are chasing him around. Maybe they can’t be contained, but the Terps at least must try to make them shoot tough shots like fadeaways or stepbacks to have a chance.

THE STATS

29: Games in Duke’s home winning streak, the second longest in the country.

140.6: Tyler Thornton’s offensive rating, the second best in the country. However, he only uses 8.8 of possessions, according to KenPom.com, so it might just be a small-enough sample size to qualify.

6: Years since Maryland last beat a ranked team on the road.

THE LINKS

In today’s WaPo: Not just another game

Terps discuss final ACC matchup with Duke

Gary Williams a Hall of Fame finalist

Previewing Maryland-Duke…from 1930

Fans share memories

Film review: Maryland-UVa.

VIDEO: Watch the Terps-Blue Devils documentary

Terps need struggling Smotrycz to regain confidence

Missed chances make latest loss tough to swallow, but Maryland sees optimism

THE QUOTES

“The atmosphere is different from other arenas. Duke fans are respectful. They have a lot of fun. They enjoy the game. They support their team. I’ve never been intimidated once playing down at Duke and I don’t think these guys are either. It’s a lot of fun. They have great fans and feed off their energy.” – Juan Dixon.

“This game means a lot to a lot of people. We’re not just trying to treat this as another game. It’s Duke. We’re excited to play the game. Duke’s one of the best teams in our league. They’re probably playing the best in our league right now. So it’s a big game. But we also know what this game means to Maryland, what it represents to our fan base. We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a tough challenge. We understand that. It always is when you play down there.” – Turgeon.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

“One More Time” by Daft Punk.

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