The team everyone at Maryland love’s to hate is in town tonight for the big game with Duke. If that isn’t enough to get you going, it is also the night Maryland will honor Gary Williams by naming the court after him. Before I go to far about Duke, let me get this off my chest. I get it. I know why we hate them. I know why we want to beat them. But can’t every ACC game carry the same weight? Sure quality wins, blah blah blah. However, Comcast needs to be a home court advantage, and so far this season, it hasn’t. In the grand scheme of things every win is a win. There are just as many reasons to hate other schools. Maybe this summer we will do a breakdown of why we should get up for every opponent.
Anyway, after the court Ceremony tonight (which begins at 8:40 for those going) Maryland does have to get itself together and take on a tough Duke team. The crowd tonight will look much like a WWE event with signs, costumes, and other things that don’t show up for the Virginia Tech’s of the world.
Duke is coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Florida State that saw Duke tie the game in the closing seconds, only have FSU drain the three at the buzzer. It made my day. Freshman Austin Rivers is leading the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game (40% from three), Seth Curry 12.6 ppg (38% from three, potential mismatch material Ryan Kelly 12.4 (46 % from three), Mason Plumlee 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds, and Andre Dawkins 10.4 ppg (41.3 % from three and 54% (15 of 28) over his last three games. Do you get a common theme? Duke can shoot the three. Four players shoot over 38%. I am not a rocket scientist, and I can tell you if the Terps want any chance at winning this game tonight, they have got to defend the three.
I am not sure what to expect out of Alex Len tonight, but his size is going to be important against the Plumlee’s and Kelly. Whoever is guarding Kelly has to be able to step outside and guard him a few feet beyond the three point line. He is a very capable outside shooter. Nothing against Berend Weis, but he will get pushed around inside against Duke’s stronger front line. If the Terps can get 20 minutes out of Len, it will be a huge help defensively and maybe he can draw a few fouls.
The Terps can also not afford to turn the ball over. Against Duke turnovers can be a five or 6 point swing that can quickly turn into double digit runs. Poise with the ball is a must.
Sean Mosley also appeared to be hampered by his ankle injury against Temple a bit. I am not sure we will see him at full strength again. That ankle injury has been nagging him on and off his entire career. His defense against any of Dukes guard trio is extremely important tonight.
Do the Terps have a chance? I think they could be very competitive if Len is able to contribute. I don’t know that they have the horses to hang with Duke all night, but anything is possible. I am not expecting an upset, but I can also say I wouldn’t be surprised if for one night the Terps are able to put together an entire 40 minute effort. And that is exactly what it will take.
Make sure you take a close look at the two styles of shoes the Terps will be wearing tonight. They are paying tribute to Gary Williams. I know they have incorporated the pride theme and his signature on them. I posted a pic on our twitter account last night. I wonder if they are going to come out in some sort of pride uniform as well. You never know anymore.