Bring On Duke

2/1/2011 6:56:51 PM Well, I'm hunkered down in the Soup Lair while the city of Chicago gets pelted with "Thundersnow" and 20ft waves from Lake Michigan. Instead of trying to come up with useless euphemisms for major snowstorms (Snowmegeddon, Snowpocalypse, or my favorite, Snowlocaust); I thought I'd pen a little preview of tomorrow's tilt.

The Terps have made it to a crossroads in the 2010-11 season.  We've seen the Terps play extremely well against some of the best competition that the NCAA has to offer; yet they've come up short every time.

That lack of finishing effort can be expected from a team that relies heavily on a freshman backcourt and an "uneven" group of seniors.  We knew there would be missed opportunities and disappointing "should-have-beens". 

That is all in the past now.  The Terps are coming together.  They've won three straight road games, including two on the road.  For the most part, the freshman have played much better and all of the Terps are playing much smarter.  To wit, when UVA double-teamed Jordan Williams at every turn last week; he scored only four points and the Terps blew the Cavaliers out of their own gym anyway by making them pay for the double team.

That performance demonstrates the growth we've seen this month.  I truly believe that the Terps are ready for the next step.  Duke comes to town at the perfect time.  The Terps are firing on all cylinders and Duke should be questioning themselves a bit after getting blown out by St. Johns. 

Maryland proved in Durham that they match up well with the Blue Devils.  Now, the Terps need to show they learned from that game.  The matchup is surprisingly even.  The Terps and Blue Devils split every major statistical category as evidenced by this handy chart:



PPGFG%FT%3P%RPGORPGDRPGAPGTPGSPGBPGFPG
Duke DUKE 85.3 47.8 75.9 39.0 38.2 12.1 26.1 15.5 12.7 8.6 4.9 17.8
Maryland MARY 76.6 47.8 64.1 33.7 40.0 13.1 27.0 16.7 14.1 7.2 5.1 16.3
Duke DUKE Opponents 65.3 40.6 64.9 34.4 34.6 12.3 22.2 12.0 16.5 6.6 2.9 20.4
Maryland MARY Opponents 63.1 38.2 67.7 30.3 35.3 12.1 23.1 11.9 16.5 5.9 3.8 20.0

Maryland is quicker than Duke.  Duke has better shooters.  Maryland has better interior scoring.  The Terps will win if they control the defensive glass (not easy when the opponent shoots a ton of threes) and play good perimeter defense. 

Offensively, Maryland will need to adjust to the way Duke plays them.  If they opt to cover Jordan Williams with just one of the Plumlee's; then J Will will have a big night.  If they double Jordan, then the other guys will need to step up and knock down the open look.

I believe in these Terps.   A win tomorrow, and the Terps are on their way.  They would have the inside track on double digit ACC wins and could really go on a run through the month of February. 

Sometimes, great (or good) teams don't become great (or good) until halfway through the season.  Is that what will happen with this team?  We will find out tomorrow night.
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