Who: Maryland (11-7, 3-2 ACC) at North Carolina State (11-7, 1-4 ACC)
When: Monday, 9 p.m.
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.
TV: ESPNU (Mike Patrick, play-by-play; LaPhonso Ellis, analyst)
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Third season, 53-35). Wolfpack – Mark Gottfried (Third season, 59-31).
Kenpom rating: Maryland 64th, North Carolina State 103rd.
The most recent narrative swirling in College Park has been simple and only arose because the Maryland men’s basketball managed to not lose at home to Notre Dame. Because the Terrapins overcame a nine-point halftime deficit and avoided a three-game slide that only would have further infuriated an already restless fan base, they could laugh, joke and smile into Monday night’s matchup against North Carolina State. Since the mindset has changed, at least for now, the Terps can move onto more pressing and tangible matters, like winning their second ACC road game and moving to two games above .500 with a two-game homestand against Pittsburgh and Miami ahead. The Wolfpack, meanwhile, were humiliated on the road on Saturday and nearly had 100 points hung on them by host Duke, so Coach Mark Turgeon and company are expecting a ticked-off bunch looking to return home for vengeance.
1) Contain Warren? Sophomore forward T.J. Warren is averaging 22.2 points per game, which is nearly double what North Carolina State’s second-leading scorer puts up on a nightly basis. Yes, Maryland will have to worry about the speedy penetration of point guard Cat Barber, the hot outside shooting of Ralston Turner and a host of other supporting cast members, but Warren presents by far the most formidable challenge. He shoots more than any power-conference player in the country and roughly 80 percent of his 316 field goal attempts happen with at least one foot in the paint.
“He’s tough,” Turgeon said. “He’s got good size, he’s playing the three, he’s got post-up game. He makes really tough shots, puts foul pressure on you. He’s going to get his probably. Our whole thing with warren, if he gets 20 points or his average, that he does it on 19-20 shots. If he gets 22 on eight shots, that’s not going to be good for us, or he gets 30 on 10 shots. Got to make him earn it. But he’s a good player. He’s a really good player. He’s got to earn it.”
2) Handle the environment? From the 9 p.m. tip-off time to the raucous PNC Arena sure to be stuffed with angry fans, the Terps have plenty of challenges ahead in their latest road trip. They are 12 games below .500 under Turgeon in true road games, but need to start ripping off victories away from Comcast Center if their already-faint NCAA tournament hopes have any chance to coming true.
“I feel like it’s about time where we show that we can be a great road team, go into other peoples’ house and get a win,” forward Charles Mitchell said. “Everyone has that mental thing, where we expect to win at home. We want to become a team where we expect to win on the road.”
Said Nick Faust: “It’s just being against adversity. Usually the refs are on the home court side, the fans are into it, things like that. You have to have the mentality to fight through and push through.”
3) Defend the three-point line? The Wolfpack are dreadful three-point shooters, making fewer than 30 percent of their attempts, but Maryland has a nasty habit of allowing struggling teams to catch fire from beyond the arc. In fact, opponents are shooting 37.7 percent against the Terps, which ranks 295th nationally. Only Turner (41.0 percent) is keeping North Carolina State’s average from the Division I cellar, but if Warren (21.3 percent), Barber (26.7 percent) or Desmond Lee (27.9 percent) make anywhere near 50 or even 40 percent, Maryland could be in trouble.
.909: Maryland’s winning percentage against North Carolina State in their past 11 meetings (10-1).
29.0: North Carolina State’s three-point shooting percentage, which ranks 323rd nationally.
18.0: Scoring average in four true road games for Dez Wells, including a 33-point outburst at Boston College in December.
“We definitely need to get this road win and it comes with maturity. Making this jump can set us up for a good season. We want to look back on the NC State game and say that really boosted us.” – Nick Faust.
“It’s time. It’s never easy on the road, no matter who you’re playing, when you’re playing, it’s never easy. So we’ve got to figure out a way to play better out there. That’s really the next step for us. Hopefully we’ll play well tomorrow night.” – Turgeon.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY