Who: Maryland (7-4, 1-0 ACC) vs. Boston University (6-5, 0-0 Patriot)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center
TV: ESPN3 (Mike Corey, play-by-play; Glen Consor, analyst.)
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Third season, 49-32). Terriers – Joe Jones (Third season, 39-34).
Kenpom rating: Maryland 53rd, Boston University 148th.
The Maryland men’s basketball team returns from its exam-week break on a two-game winning streak to face Boston University, losers of three straight. But the Terrapins would be unwise to overlook their Saturday afternoon visitors, the alma mater of assistant coach Scott Spinelli (’89). They share two common opponents in George Washington and Connecticut this season, and neither side managed a win in those games, though Maryland gets the edge in total margin of losses (3 points to 27). With three mid-major contests remaining until ACC play gears up, that means three more chances to climb into 2014 on a high note, and perhaps the longest winning streak of the season.
1. Attack the rim? The Terriers are an atrocious shot-blocking team; in fact, they rank second-worst nationally in block percentage (2.8), according to Kenpom.com. This could mean a pre-holiday feast for Dez Wells, who enters having reached double figures in seven straight games, including that 33-point outburst during the ACC opener at Boston College. This also means Maryland can attack the rim at will without much fear of having its shots swatted away, and its penetrators – such as Nick Faust and Roddy Peters — shouldn’t settle for jump shots when layups can be had.
2. Contain the playmaker? On the flipside, point guard Maurice Watson Jr. ranks second nationally in assist rate (48.3 percent), and leads the Patriot League with 6.5 assists per game, steals (23) and field goals made (69). He’s shooting 57.5 percent from the field and scoring 14.6 points per game too. Simply put, he’s the motor who makes the Terriers go. At a shifty 5 feet 10, Watson could provide a thorny matchup problem for Maryland’s longer wings like Faust and Wells, so point guard Roddy Peters might open the game tasked with guarding him.
“No challenge that we haven’t seen as a team,” Wells said. “We’ve played against really, really, really good players like Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier. We play against really good guards year in and year out. We’ll be up for the challenge. He’s a really good player. We’re going to prepare for the game. We’ll be ready for him tomorrow and I’m pretty sure they’ll be ready for us too.”
3. Avoid the hangover? With eight days between games for final examinations, the Terps tried to fill the void with shoot-arounds, light practices, workouts and even entire days off. It was trickily timed, at once beneficial given the three-game, five-day stretch that preceded it but perhaps damaging because of the long layoff. Fortunate for them, the Terriers last played Dec. 15, an 86-82 overtime loss at home to Norfolk State, and have to handle the burden of traveling to Comcast Center too. But Maryland has shown a penchant for starting slow against mid-major opponents this season, and this pesky Boston University squad could be the latest example.
7: Active ACC coaches with 300 career wins, a club Turgeon can join.
48.3: Maurice Watson’s assist rate, meaning he assists on about half of Boston University’s made field goals while he’s on the floor, which happens to be 77.1 percent of the time. Only LIU-Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman (55.0) has a better assist rate.
53: Career points scored by Spinelli at Boston University in 40 career games (1.3 points per game), according to stats on sports-reference.com
“We have a rule. Today they can talk about Christmas break, pack their bags, get their rides lined up. We wake up tomorrow, I cannot hear the word Christmas until the game’s over. From anybody, including you guys. So that’s how we’ll approach it. It’ll be all about BU from the time we wake up.” — Turgeon.
“I can’t say the C-word. I’m not allowed to say the C-word by Coach Turgeon. He’s being a Grinch right now. After tomorrow he’ll be better.” — Wells.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“More Than a Feeling” by Boston.