Maryland at Duke
Maryland (14-9, 4-5) at Duke (20-4, 7-2), 4:00 PM, ESPN/ESPN3
Duke and Maryland are both coming off of emotional wins, although Duke’s was just a tad more high-profile. Maryland got its first road win of the year after eight straight road losses dating back to last season. Duke knocked off North Carolina on a buzzer-beater, and the Blue Devils’ jubilance – though obviously understandable – makes for an interesting emotional challenge with a Maryland team coming to town that will be eager to knock them off. Not that Duke would overlook the Terrapins, but the Blue Devils have lost two ACC home games in four tries this year and Maryland knows that Duke is still riding that emotional high from Wednesday night. The Blue Devils will have to maintain the focus and intensity they showed not only in the closing minutes in Chapel Hill, but also for much of the game at Maryland earlier this year as well.
Stat to watch: Two-point field goal percentage. Maryland’s Mark Turgeon has made no secret about what his game plan was the first time around, and he’ll likely stick to a similar version of it this time. “I’d rather (Mason) Plumlee score 22 than give up 15 3’s any day,” Turgeon said. “I thought that if we guarded that way (in the first meeting), we would win but we weren’t good enough offensively to win.” Against Maryland, Duke shot 62% from inside the arc which is their highest percentage in ACC play when attempting at least 30 two’s. Duke shot 50% from two against North Carolina, but attempted 26 shots which is tied for their fewest such attempts in ACC play. Duke drained 14-of-36 three’s against the Tar Heels – their most three’s attempted and made this year (the game before, their 31 attempts against Miami had been a season-high). But Duke isn’t just going to forget what their advantage is against Maryland, and it’s their inside game. Maryland held Duke’s guards to just 21 points on 8-of-27 shooting (1-of-12 from three) but allowed Duke’s bigs to score 44 points on 71% shooting.
Maryland is going to need to shoot better from inside the arc, though. The Terrapins made just 43.2% of their two’s against Duke. Maryland’s bigs shot 5-of-14 (36%), the lowest percentage Duke has allowed to an opposing ACC frontcourt this year. Duke has allowed five of its nine ACC opponents to shoot 50% or better from inside the arc and six to have 30 or more points in the paint, but Maryland did neither, shooting just 43.2% from two (the lowest allowed by Duke in league play) and scoring 28 points in the paint. Maryland is going to have to make those higher-percentage shots against Duke because while they have been shooting three’s better (8-of-11 at Clemson and 15-of-28 in their last two ACC wins combined) they shoot just 34% on the year and 35% in ACC play. Even against North Carolina’s lengthy inside presence, they had 36 points in the paint, their most in league play so far. They need to channel whatever it is that allowed them to do that against Duke.
Most important players: Terrell Stoglin, Maryland and Austin Rivers, Duke. This could be the matchup of the weekend, especially considering the games that each are coming off. Stoglin quietly had his most efficient game of the year to date with 27 points on just 11 shots, draining 4-of-6 three’s and nine of his 11 field goal attempts. He had to take 21 shots to get 20 points against North Carolina in the previous game and 26 shots for 33 points against Miami in the game before that. Stoglin was brilliant against Clemson, but it won’t be nearly as easy against Duke. Prior to his 16-point performance against Duke in the earlier meeting, Stoglin had a total of 11 points in three games against the Blue Devils on 4-of-24 shooting. He is still without a made three against Duke (0-of-11). He was just 2-of-7 from the foul line in the first meeting this year and he’ll have to be ready to knock those down. He has made 17-of-19 in the last three games and is shooting 75% on the year (73.3% in league play). It’s not always easy to hit them in Cameron, though.
Everyone with a TV knows that Rivers hit the game-winner for Duke against North Carolina, and he’s certainly riding as high as anyone. In the first half, he was going one-on-one a bit too much and taking some ill-advised shots (though some were going in). But he settled down in the second half and made perhaps the most important play of his – and Duke’s – season to date with a three-pointer as time expired. His ten three-pointers attempted were a season-high, but so were his six made three’s. He averages 10 shot attempts in Duke’s wins and 15 in their losses, and he had 16 against North Carolina in a near-loss. But more than at any other time this year, his 29 points off of those 16 shots (compared to 73 off 60 shots in Duke’s four losses) against North Carolina show that he is learning to be efficient, which is scary. He just can’t get over-exuberant and let his confidence spill over into making bad plays.
Random stat: Duke leads the all-time series 111-61 and while this used to be a matchup that would eventually rival Carolina and Duke, it hasn’t been all that competitive lately. Duke has won four in a row and 10 of the last 11 dating back to 2008. Maryland’s only win came in 2010 and it clinched the ACC regular-season crown for the Terrapins. Maryland’s last win at Cameron came in 2007, but the Terrapins have won four times there since 2000, second only to North Carolina (five times). Still, Duke has taken the last four meetings in Cameron by an average of 20.3 points. Maryland’s seven-
Prediction: Duke 88, Maryland 77
Last week: 10-2
Season: 103-36 (39-17 ACC)