Who: Maryland (20-9, 8-8 ACC) vs. North Carolina (21-8, 11-5).
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center.
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (second season at Maryland, 37-24). Tar Heels – Roy Williams (10th season at North Carolina, 278-76)
Pomeroy ratings: Terps 62nd, Tar Heels 29th.
RPI: Terps 70th, Tar Heels 20th.
The the snowstorm may keep some fans at home, but Maryland has announced that the game will be played as scheduled and the stakes remain high for Maryland. The Terps enter fresh off their second ACC road win this season, a gritty 67-57 decision at Wake Forest, while the Tar Heels enter, in Turgeon’s estimation, “one of the hottest teams in the country.” North Carolina’s recent five-game win streak has vaulted Williams’s group onto the cusp of the top 25 rankings, while Maryland still has work to do to crack the NCAA tournament bubble. They last met on Jan. 19 in Chapel Hill, when the Tar Heels sprung to a 22-point halftime lead and coasted.
1. Play small or big? North Carolina’s resurgence has coincided with its switch to a four-guard lineup after Williams stuck P.J. Hairston into the starting group. This gives Turgeon two options. Either he sticks with the traditional two-forward lineup with some combination of James Padgett/Alex Len/Charles Mitchell/Shaquille Cleare and lives with the consequences of matching up either Padgett or Mitchell against Hairston, or he sacrifices the height advantage and goes small. The most likely scenario will be a mix-and-match option based on the game’s status.
2. Defend the three-point line? Either way Turgeon rolls, the Terps need to protect the perimeter and not allow Bullock (41.5 percent on three-pointers in conference play) to get going. The junior dropped a season-high 24 on Maryland in the first meeting, including four threes.
3. Protect home court? It’s Senior Day for Logan Aronhalt and Padgett, not to mention a full-blown “White Out” given the jerseys and weather. The Terps have only lost two games at Comcast Center this season (Florida State and Virginia). A third will only make an NCAA tournament bid that much more unlikely.
Check out my story on Aronhalt, who simply slayed me at Pop-a-Shot.
349: Total points this season for both Alex Len and Dez Wells (12 per game, 16.93 percent of team total).
13: Lineups Turgeon will have used this season, assuming Aronhalt and Padgett start together for Senior Night against North Carolina.
59.7: Wells’s two-point field-goal percentage.
“We’ll play by our principles. Transition defense is huge, getting to the shooters, knowing who the shooters are, even though all of them can make shots. We’ve worked hard defensively, we’ve been a really good defensive team .We kind of lost our way there for a while, especially at Georgia Tech. This creates a huge challenge for us, obviously. But we’ll play by our principles and hopefully play well. Hopefully we’ll have a great crowd, and we’re going to be fired up tomorrow night.” – Turgeon.
“We felt like it was a must-win game. After watching the film, it really helped us a lot. We could see where we were being lazy, or a lack of urgency on defense or whatever. Turgeon got us on it, and the following day, we went into practice, had a great practice, doing the little things like closing out, boxing out, stuff like that. That led over into the Wake Forest game, and that’s why we got a W.” – Cleare on Maryland’s sense of urgency at Wake Forest.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“Snow” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.