Wake Forest at Maryland
Wake Forest (10-5, 1-0) at Maryland (10-4, 0-1), 7:00 PM, RSN/ESPN3
It’s hard to know what to make of Wake Forest’s surprising win over Virginia Tech on Saturday, particularly since the Hokies seem to have hit the skids. But the Deacons have two elite scorers and are capable of beating almost any ACC team if those two are on. Maryland seems to be getting better even after losing to N.C. State, but the Terrapins really need a third scorer to emerge for them (Alex Len will be an easy No. 2 behind Terrell Stoglin). Stoglin and Len accounted for half of Maryland’s scoring by themselves against N.C. State and 46% of it since Len’s return.
Stat to watch: Rebounding. Is Wake Forest now a good rebounding team? Or was its performance against Virginia Tech (42-31 edge in rebounding) an anomaly? “We have done every rebound drill imaginable known to mankind over the last several days, and we’ve done that all year long,” Wake head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “They had enough of getting their butts beat on the boards.” Maryland is out-rebounding opponents by +8.4 per game over the last eight; N.C. State out-rebounded them, but only by two. Maryland pulled down 13 offensive rebounds to 11 for N.C. State.
Most important players: Terrell Stoglin, Maryland and Travis McKie, Wake Forest. Stoglin leads the ACC and is sixth nationally in scoring for Maryland. The problem is that no one else is really stepping up to help him, and Stoglin doesn’t appear willing – or able – to involve others. “You look at the games Terrell has two or three assists, I guarantee you we probably won those games,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. He’s almost right: Maryland is 8-1 when Stoglin has two or more assists and 2-3 when he doesn’t. In two games against Wake last year, Stoglin averaged 3.5 points in 14.5 minutes, picking up three fouls in each game and making just 3-of-12 shots (0-of-5 three’s).
McKie and C.J. Harris have had to carry Wake Forest this year, and it’s gotten them some wins (Nebraska, High Point, Texas Tech) they might not have had otherwise. McKie had his worst shooting performance in nearly two months against Virginia Tech (43%) but it was his rebounding that saved the day. McKie had 15 boards, easily a season high, and his six offensive rebounds were more than he had averaged to that point (5.8). Wake will need him to keep rebounding that well the rest of the year. McKie has played two games against Maryland and averaged 11.5 points on 43% shooting. Wake will need more from McKie if it wants to win this one.
Random Stat: Maryland is 4-3 in ACC home openers since expansion. Maryland hasn’t started 2-0 in the league since expansion and has finished either 7-9 or 8-8 five of the last seven seasons. The Terrapins were 10-6 in 2007, though, winning their final seven ACC games. This team is capable of a run like that. Wake Forest is just 2-5 in road openers since expansion.
Prediction: Maryland 67, Wake Forest 64
Last week: 6-3 (4-2)
Season: 66-22 (5-3)