Maryland basketball vs. Florida State: Previewing the ACC tournament opener


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

THE INFO

Who: No. 8 seed Maryland (17-14) vs. No. 9 Florida State (18-12)
When: Noon.
Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
TV: ESPN (Sean McDonough, play-by-play; Jay Bilas, analyst) and ACC Network (Tim Brant, play-by-play; Mike Gminski, analyst).
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (third season, 59-42). Seminoles – Leonard Hamilton (12th season, 237-155).
Kenpom rating: Maryland 46th, Florida State 39th.
RPI: Maryland 76th, Florida State 58th.

THE SCRIPT

The final ACC tournament for the Maryland men’s basketball team has finally arrived. After earning a reprieve from the opening day, the Terrapins get a rubber match against Florida State with the winner getting top-seeded Virginia on Friday in the quarterfinals. The two sides split their regular season matchups, with the home team winning both times under drastically different circumstances. In Tallahassee, Fla., the Seminoles won behind 18 made three-pointers. In College Park, Maryland won so comfortably because Florida State was missing leading scorer Ian Miller. The Terps also enter with some extra motivation, having lost former student manager Zach Lederer to cancer this week, and hope to carry with them the zeal for life that the 20-year-old kept during his fight.

THE QUESTIONS

1) Will Maryland play within its offense? The Terps found a grove Sunday against then-No. 5 Virginia, using penetration from guards Seth Allen and Dez Wells to create space in the half-court offense, but Florida State’s tremendous rim protection – it ranks 21st nationally in block percentage – might make that difficult. So the Terps need to be even more patient with their scheme, driving and dishing to open shooters and avoiding the hastily shot three-pointers that have caused them to unravel in lesser situations.

2) Can the Terps win the boards? Maryland allowed 20 offensive rebounds to the Seminoles on Feb. 8 and still wound up winning by 12 points, but that difference might have been trimmed had Miller been healthy. The Terps rank among the top 100 teams nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, while Florida State – improbably, considering its length – allows offensive rebounds on 36.4 percent of possessions, one of the country’s 20 worst rates.

3) Will Okaro White go off? White has been dynamite over the past four games for Florida State, averaging 21 points during that span while staying out of foul trouble (two per game) and still rebounding at a relatively high clip (seven per game). He has been the linchpin for his team’s recent rejuvenation, which saw a three-game winning streak halted against Syracuse on Sunday. Both forward Charles Mitchell and center Shaq Cleare have played better defensively of late, but how will the Terps handle an athletic, above-the-rim forward like White, who is capable of exploding for 20 points on any given game these days?

THE STATS

0.28: Allen’s points per possession against Florida State on Jan. 12 in Tallahassee, the worst mark of his college career.

1.86: Allen’s PPP against Florida State on Feb. 8 at Comcast Center, the best mark of his college career.

19.5: Maryland’s average margin of victory in four ACC tournament games against Florida State, all wins.

THE LINKS

Meet John Auslander, Maryland’s stand-up guy

After splitting regular season games, Terps confident vs. FSU

Terps playing with heavy hearts after former manager’s death

Mental improvements from Cleare, Smotrycz pleasing Maryland

An under-control, self-aware Allen is best

Dez Wells named third-team all-ACC

THE QUOTES

“It’s been strange for me, because I’ve here for three years and two of the years we’ve said we were leaving. It’s been strange for me. But it’s one of the all-time great tournaments, this ACC tournament. So that’s going to be tough to leave and not be a part of it. We just want to play well and hopefully advance and be around for a little bit, then we’ll cross that bridge. It is what it is. For two years it’s been like okay we’re leaving the league. To this point it hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to go, but hopefully we’ll have a good run here.” – Turgeon.

“None of us are going to forget Zach. Us that knew him know that he loves stuff like this. He loves life. We’re going to try to get this one for him. We’re playing for him and we’re praying for him.” — Allen.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

“Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers.

)

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