3/3/10: DUKE – MD Game Preview

Hello all. Wow it has been a while since I last posted! But thanks to a certain friend of mine your boy is BACK to preview Maryland’s most important regular season game in quite some time.

Let’s start with the facts. The fourth ranked Duke Blue Devils come to College Park this evening playing some excellent basketball. Their last defeat was to Georgetown at the end of January. Since that loss they have rattled off eight straight wins by an average margin of 13½ points.

The 22nd ranked Maryland Terrapins last loss was at the hands of Duke when they got clobbered by 21 on February 13 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. However things have changed for the Terps since that beatdown. They have won five straight, and have come from behind in four of those wins.

And so these two rivals meet again, but this time the stakes are a bit higher. Maryland is one game behind Duke in the ACC standings. Conventional wisdom would say “Look, Duke won 67-49 last time these two played each other, no chance the Terps win tonight.” That argument works if we are simulating this game on Accuscore with computer simulations. But we are certainly NOT.

Tonight is senior night for Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne. Emotions will be running high. The students at Maryland just loathe everything about Duke, you know they will be loud and crazy tonight.

But let’s step away from the emotion and environment of the game and look at the keys to victory for both the Devils and the Terps.

DUKE: KEY #1: Get off to a fast start. They are such a hard team to beat once they get a substantial lead on you. In the last meeting between these teams Duke had a 25-6 run in the first half and built up a lead they didn’t even come close to relinquishing.

KEY#2: The big 3 has to produce. Jon Scheyer (18.8 ppg), Nolan Smith (17.4 ppg), and Kyle Singler (17.1 ppg) do the bulk of the scoring for this team. Even if one of them has an off night, usually the other two are capable of playing well enough to pick up his slack. Also Duke’s defense acts a cushion in case the baskets aren’t coming for this trio. But if Maryland can force others such as Lance Thomas, the Plumlee brothers, and Brian Zoubek to take the big shots down the stretch, that will be big.

KEY#3: Take advantage of the middle. In the game on Feb. 13th, Zoubek had a career day scoring 16 points and grabbing 17 boards. The senior took advantage of Terps freshman Jordan Williams. I don’t know if it was the nerves of playing at Cameron for the first time, but until Williams proves he can hold his own against Duke’s big men, it would be wise for the Devils to go after him early and often.

MARYLAND: KEY #1: The Venezuelan Sensation. What a year it has been for Greivis Vasquez. He is second in the ACC in scoring (19½ ppg) and leads the conference in assists per game (6.4). He has been the unquestioned leader of this squad. He is shooting a career best 38% from beyond the arc and is quietly becoming on of the best players in school and conference history. However after beating Duke on the road in his freshman year, he has lost six straight to the Devils, including last year’s ACC tournament semi-final game. Whether it be smart distribution of the rock or putting the team on his back, Vasquez needs to bring his A-game tonight.

KEY #2: Who else will step up? In Maryland’s five game win streak, different players other than Vasquez have played crucial roles. On Feb 20th, Cliff Tucker hit an amazing buzzer beater to shock Georgia Tech. Eric Hayes and Sean Mosely were cool and confident in the closing moments of last Saturday’s instant classic at Virginia Tech, nailing their free throws in the second overtime. Freshman Jordan Williams was fantastic, scoring 19 and securing 11 rebounds at N.C. State. I am looking for Landon Milbourne to step up this evening in his final home game. He had a very good start to conference play but has put up average numbers in the past six games.

KEY #3: Take care of the ball. Maryland was able to come from behind and beat the Hokies last Saturday because they only turned the ball over twice in the 2nd half. The Terps gave themselves scoring chances nearly every time they had the ball. Vasquez had only two turnovers playing 48 of the 50 minutes. Eric Hayes had 10 assists and two turnovers in 40 minutes. Duke has been and always will be a good defensive team that feasts on turnovers. It will be interesting to see how many points off of turnovers the Devils accumulate and whether or not it will be the difference between a win or a loss.

Closing thoughts: Tonight’s game should be a classic. Enjoy the best that the ACC has to offer. Expect both teams to leave it all out there for this one. Although this is not a do or die game (both teams already have byes in the ACC Tourny and are secured sports in the Big Dance), it is a rivalry, and the top spot in the conference is on the line. Should be fun. And because I’m a homer through and through, and can’t go against my boys. Two straight Duke wins at Comcast is enough…MD 71-DUKE 67


1 Response to “3/3/10: DUKE – MD Game Preview”

  1. 1 Pop March 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Will, I hope you are right about the final score. I’ll take just a one point win. But remember what YB said’ “Making predictions is hard. Especially when its about the future”! POP

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