Coming off their biggest win of the season on Wednesday night, the Maryland Terrapins face another difficult opponent Saturday when the team will travel to Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Last time we saw (14-3, 2-2 ACC) Maryland, center Alex Len scored a last second basket to give the Terps a 51-50 win over No. 14 N.C. State. The win stopped a two-game losing streak for the Terps, and the Maryland players hope they can use the momentum from Len’s buzzer beater to beat UNC.
A weak non-conference schedule left many experts questioning the strength of Maryland’s record. The NC State win will answer some of those questions. A win in Chapel Hill would answer the rest.
The Tar Heel crowd doesn’t match the intensity of Duke, but it’s reasonable to think the banners in the Carolina rafters could awe Maryland’s freshmen and sophomores. Names like Michael Jordan and Dean Smith can do that.
To win Maryland will again need to play tight defense, like they did to beat NC State.
In that game, the Terps held the Wolfpack to 31 percent shooting from the field and just 50 points.
Though (11-5, 1-2 ACC) Carolina comes into the game unranked, the Heels still average close to 80 points a game, good for 10th in the nation.
Scoring is not a strength for the Terps.
Outside of a win against Virginia Tech, Maryland has struggled to score in conference play. In their last three games the Terps only once broke the 60-point barrier.
Both teams rebound the ball well; Maryland ranks second in the nation, Carolina comes in at third. NBA scouts will certainly be in attendance to scout an always-talented Carolina squad, as well as future lottery pick Alex Len for the Terps.
Under coach Roy Williams, Carolina likes to push tempo. How Maryland coach Mark Turgeon responds will be interesting to see.
The Terps have the depth to keep up with the Heels in a track meet, but Maryland does a poor job of taking care of the ball. Turnovers could squash Maryland’s hopes of winning in Chapel Hill, so Turgeon may implore his squad to slow the pace down.
Defense will decide this game. If Maryland can slow down the Heels, they could escape Chapel Hill with a win.