Maryland vs. Temple
Maryland (12-5) vs. Temple (12-5) (at the Palestra), 11:00 AM, ESPNU
It’s amazing that these two teams have the same record. The world saw Temple knock off Duke, and Maryland has knocked off…Notre Dame? Pretty much no one else, and has squeaked by some pretty bad opponents. But since losing to Duke, Temple has lost to Dayton at home (by ten), beat St. Louis by five (on the road) and lost at Richmond by 11. They are coming off of a six-point win over LaSalle, so there’s that. And Maryland looked pretty good at FSU for about two-thirds of the game, so they have a chance, albeit a slim one.
Stat to watch: Each team’s field goal percentage. Temple’s defense isn’t great, so Maryland should be able to score some. And Maryland has shown that they can shoot pretty well against any defense by shooting 50% against the vaunted FSU defense on Tuesday. But Temple was able to beat Duke despite allowing 47.4% shooting to the Blue Devils because they shot 56.4 percent from the floor. Maryland hasn’t shot that well all season (their highest mark is 50.9%), but they haven’t allowed 50% or better shooting since November 20th (Iona shot 55.2%). Maryland will be able to keep it close and perhaps have a chance it if shoots well and plays reasonable defense against Temple. If it doesn’t, this will be a blowout because Maryland won’t be able to keep up offensively.
Most important players: Alex Len, Maryland and Khalif Wyatt, Temple. Wyatt’s teammate Ramone Moore is averaging more points, but Wyatt is hotter right now. The junior guard has averaged 21.2 points in the last five games and it all started with 22 against Duke. Wyatt has shot 55% from the floor and 52% from three in that span, adding 3.0 assists, 2.6 steals and a block per game. He “struggled” (for him) against LaSalle with just 12 points in 36 minutes, but if Maryland can’t shut him down, they’ll likely get blown out. Maryland’s Alex Len has understandably struggled in ACC play. He started off hot with 12 points and 11 rebounds at N.C. State on 5-of-7 shooting, but in the three games since, he has just eight total points and 13 total rebounds and has shot 2-of-8 from the floor. Maryland needs more from him, sooner rather than later, if it wants to compete in the middle of the ACC. Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun wrote more in-depth about what Len’s issues have been and how they might improve.
Random stat: Not sure if this is luck (bad luck) or what, but Maryland has struggled in this category all year and they have fallen to 343rd (of 345 teams) in defensive steal percentage. Temple doesn’t turn it over much anyway, so Maryland will have to hope that the Owls get careless.
Prediction: Temple 84, Maryland 77
Last week: 6-5
Season: 76-27 (15-8 ACC)