Three things to watch: Rebounding, pressure D and guard play
There are many story lines surrounding tonight's matchup between No. 22 Maryland and No. 4 Duke, most of which have been discussed previously on this blog. Most importantly, perhaps, is that with a win, the Terrapins can keep alive their hopes of claiming a regular season ACC championship. Here, then, are a few things to keep track of during Wednesday night's contest at Comcast Center:
1) Rebounding. The Blue Devils are one of the top rebounding units in the conference this season. Statistically speaking, they are the ACC's top rebounding unit. That, obviously, could pose some problems for a relatively undersize Maryland squad that possesses one consistent rebounder, freshman forward Jordan Williams. It will be vital to the Terrapins' efforts tonight that guys like Landon Milbourne, Dino Gregory and Sean Mosley crash the boards. Maryland will need a collective push to match the rebounding of Duke's Brian Zoubek and Kyle Singler, who rank among the ACC's top rebounders. If Duke gains a serious edge in second-chance points -- as they did during a 21-point win over Maryland in Durham on Feb. 13 -- Maryland likely will have a difficult time overcoming that and keeping up on the scoreboard.
2) Pressure defense. Duke pressured Maryland frequently the last time these two teams met, and that disrupted the Terrapins' offensive execution by forcing them to rush many of their shots. Maryland must do a better job of handling that pressure this time around. Also, as another ACC coach suggested, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Maryland to pressure Duke for long stretches. The purpose would not necessarily be to force turnovers -- the Blue Devils average the second fewest turnovers per game in the ACC in conference play. Rather, it would be to take some time off the shot clock and not have to defend Duke as long in half-court defensive sets.
3) Guard play. Earlier today, we discussed the star attractions of tonight's game -- senior guards Greivis Vasquez and Jon Scheyer. But the rest of the guards on both squads will play significant factors in tonight's outcome, as well. Eric Hayes is one of the ACC's top three-point shooters. If he can be assertive in his shot selection and get into a rhythm early, that could create some offensive momentum for the Terrapins, something they seldom found down in Durham. Sean Mosley has undergone an offensive resurgence of late. If he can continue on that path and provide Maryland a third scoring option, that would help spread out Duke's defense. As for the Blue Devils, their other two guards -- Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler -- each rank in the top six in the ACC in scoring and in minutes played.
March 3, 2010; 2:29 PM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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