Terps vs Villanova: Last Chance For Good Impression

1/14/2011 7:40:27 PM The headline is true.  Tomorrow is the last chance for the Terps to make a statement outside of the ACC.  Villanova boasts a 15-1 record and is ranked #7 in the country.  A win in Philadelphia will erase many doubts about this year's Terps.  A victory would expunge all of the near misses the Terps have endured thus far. 

Thanks to the good folks at StatsSheets.com; I'd like to offer a side by side comparison of the matchup:

MARY 79.2 48.2 63.1 33.3 42.4 14.4 28.0 17.4 14.5 7.3 6.2 16.8
Nova 77.9 46.1 77.1 36.3 39.5 12.1 27.4 16.1 12.4 7.4 4.5 16.6
MARY Opponents 62.2 36.6 69.2 30.3 34.9 12.2 22.6 11.5 17.1 6.2 3.8 20.8
Nova Opponents 61.8 38.0 68.0 28.7 31.5 10.4 21.1 12.7 13.2 6.1 4.1 21.2

The teams appear quite even don't they?  The Terps actually have the edge in Points, FG%, Blocks (BPG), Assists and Rebounds.  Villanova has the edge in FT%, 3P%, Turnovers (TPG).  The teams are dead even in steals and fouls per game. 

If anything, the Terps appear to have the statistical edge given that they lead in more categories (5-3).  However, Nova's edge in threes, FTs, and turnovers are in arguably the most important statistical categories.

Missing free throws will kill you as we have seen too many times this year.   So will turnovers.  The Terps have gotten much better in the turnover department as the season has worn on, so I feel good there.  What worries me most (outside of FTs) is our penchant for falling in love with the three-pointer.  The Terps were something like 5-18 from beyond the arc against Wake. 

The Terps need to focus on what they do well.  Pound the ball into Jordan Williams down low and let him pass out of the double team to either a cutter or an open shooter.  If we start running and gunning with Nova from deep, they will make us pay.

I think the Terps can win if they are able to harness their nerves and execute from the charity stripe.  Jordan leads the ACC in FT attempts per game.  He needs to start making teams pay for fouling him.  As Mike Gminiski pointed out in the Wake game; Jordan has an excellent stroke.  The problem is between the ears on this one. Williams will need some help from the seniors.  We can ill afford to see Cliff Tucker clanking crucial free throws tomorrow.

As for Nova; they sport three guys who have scored 200 points or more so far this year and they are all guards: Corey Stokes, Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayne.  Fisher and Wayne are not great 3PT shooters (29% and 21% respectively). 

Stokes on the other hand is deadly (46%).  At 6'5", he's a matchup nightmare.  I don't see Mosley able to guard him. I just don't think he is quick enough to check Stokes.  It's going to have to be Tucker or Howard.  Tucker has the tools; but he is going to have to be dedicated for 40 minutes.  Does he have it in him?  Howard will give it his all; but I don't know if he has the quickness and size to really bother Stokes.

National TV awaits.  The Terps are poised for a big win.  They've been building towards pulling one of these games out.  Will it be tomorrow?

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