Maui Classic Preview

11/22/2009 8:17:32 PM Everyone's favorite early season tournament kicks off Monday night and the Terps are poised for a successful run in Maui.  The Terps are coming off three convincing early season victories and we have yet to see the best of Greivis Vasquez.

In Maui, the Terps are technically the number 1 seed by virtue of the fact that they have drawn host school, Chaminade in the 1st round.  Drawing DII Chaminade is a double-edged sword.  While the matchup virtually guarantees that Maryland will be playing in the semifinals of the winner's bracket; a win will not count in eyes of the NCAA Tournament committee come next March.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Before I start breaking down our potential semifinal opponents; I need to forestall the karma Gods and at least spend a little time breaking down the Chaminade Silverswords (I had to look that up).  The roster appears to be composed of castoffs from D-I programs (a Utah State here, a University of Washington there, and so on).  There is a Serbian on the roster too.  For a small school in Hawaii; it appears that the coaching staff has amassed some talent.  It won't matter.  Despite having a 7-footer (USC transfer Mamadou Diarra); Chaminade can't possibly compete with the likes of the ACC. In fact they never have.  Unless of course, you count UVA as a legitimate ACC School.

My prediction:  Terps 80, Chaminade, 52

The Terps second round opponent promises to be more formidable.  Let's start with Cinncinnati.  Anyone who follows the Terps knows that the coaching staff pursued New York scholastic phenom Lance Stephenson (aka Born Ready)  this past summer.  It's not clear if Gary Williams and the coaching staff soured on Born Ready or vice versa; but Stephenson opted for Cincy out of nowhere as his recruitment came to a close.

Anecdotally, I sit next to a huge Bearcat fan at my new office and he says there is Big East Freshman of the Year buzz surrounding Lance Stephenson.  I'm not sold. Lance is averaging 11.5 points per game on 35% shooting.  He's not exactly lighting it up.  Couple that with a near loss to Prairie View A&M, and the Bearcats look vulnerable should we wind up facing them.

Vanderbilt has also struggled in the early going.  The Commodores squeaked past mid-major semi-power, St. Mary's last week.  St. Mary's is a good school, so a 72-70 victory isn't exactly cause for concern.  Vanderbilt's best player is from, where else, Sweden.  His name is Jeff Taylor (you were expecting Magnus von Magnussen?).  He is a 6'7" swing player who has yet to hit a three pointer this year.  There really is no precedent for a Swedish basketball player named Jeff, so I can't comment any further.  What I can tell you is that Vandy's second leading scorer is a long range sharpshooter. His name is Jermaine Beal and he is currently connecting on 46% of his threes.  Our tall guards will need to use every inch of their length to keep Beal from killing us from beyond the arc.

I really can't say who the Terps will be playing on Tuesday; but anything short of a victory will be a major disappointment.  The final round offers a cornucopia options including: Gonzaga ( very dangerous), Arizona (Sean Miller and his meddling with Terrell Stoglin's recruiting come to mind), Wisconsin (wouldn't a 55 - 52 final score be exciting?), and Colorado (no chance).  I'm going to wait for the field to narrow a little before analyzing our options.  Until then, Go Terps!
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