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Three things to watch

Later today, Maryland will take on No. 3 Villanova as part of the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center. This will mark the eighth game of the season for the Terrapins. It also will mark the final game the Terrapins will play without the services of suspended junior forward Dino Gregory ("Hopefully," Coach Gary Williams said yesterday.). Maryland could use a win today, both for short-term confidence purposes and for long-term NCAA tournament resume purposes. Here are some things to keep track of during this evening's contest:

1) The press defense. Players said Saturday that Maryland's press was ineffective during the first half against Indiana on Tuesday because the Hoosiers' strategy to break the press was fairly unique. Indiana, according to Eric Hayes and Sean Mosley, did not keep a forward back to provide a safety valve for the guard bringing the ball up the court. Therefore, the Hoosiers had one more player who could find a hole in Maryland's press near the midcourt line.

"We just didn't match up well," Hayes said. "They were throwing the ball ahead and getting fast break opportunities were they were getting three on twos and four on threes."

Maryland, as you likely remember, switched out of the press late in the first half against Indiana and dropped back into a 3-2 zone defense that was largely effective. But the blueprint for breaking Maryland's press already had been established. Villanova, no doubt, saw the tape and may adopt a strategy similar to Indiana's in order to break Maryland's press. The Terrapins thrive when they are able to tally transition points of the turnovers their press creates. It will be interesting to see what adjustments Maryland makes to its press defense in light of the experience at Indiana.

2) Free throw attempts. Villanova has taken an average of 30 free throw attempts per game this season, which seems to imply that the Wildcats are fairly effective at driving to the basket and drawing fouls. That could be a considerable problem for a Maryland frontcourt that has struggled to stay out of foul trouble at times this season. Landon Milbourne and Jordan Williams -- specifically with Gregory unavailable -- are critical components on both sides of the ball for the Terrapins, pieces Maryland likely cannot afford to lose or have limited against Villanova due to foul trouble. On the other hand, Villanova's opponents are averaging 27.6 free throw attempts per contest, so it appears the Wildcats are equally prone to foul trouble. Expect to see a lot of trips to the charity stripe for both squads tonight.

3) Greivis Vasquez vs. Scottie Reynolds. In all likelihood, these two players will not directly match up tonight. Sophomore guard Sean Mosley seems a better fit to guard Reynolds when Villanova has the ball, and Villanova guard Corey Stokes seems a better fit to guard Vasquez when Maryland has the ball. Rather, a comparison of the play of Vasquez and Reynolds tonight is worth drawing because the two playes share so many similarities. They both have had successful collegiate careers. They both are critical to their team's level of success. They both entered their name in last summer's NBA draft, only to withdraw and return for a final collegiate season. And consequently, they both feel they have something to prove this season to the NBA scouts evaluating their play. Neither has gotten off to a particularly strong start this year, but both have a history of performing at their best in big games. Tonight's match-up would seem to qualify as such.

By Steve Yanda  |  December 6, 2009; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Villanova holds off Maryland, 95-86

Comments

What's the point of having MASN HD if I can't even see it in HD, even comcast gets our games in HD

Posted by: bmdugan | December 6, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

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