(Editor’s note: Special thanks to Jeremy Gold with http://turtle-soup.com/ for working on this collaboration and providing advanced scouting on Maryland)
Just a little over three weeks ago Miami and Maryland staged a battle for the ages, with Miami holding on 90-86 in double OT. Maryland hopes to gain a measure of revenge as the ‘Canes head to College Park to take on the Terrapins (8pm EST Raycom/ESPN3). For the Hurricanes it is another opportunity to get one step closer to an NCAA Tournament bid. With just 4 games remaining most experts project Miami to barely make the field. Maryland proved no easy out last time these teams met, however this time around the ‘Canes will have big man Kenny Kadji available. Kadji missed the game on February 1, with a concussion. Miami will need K2 and company to fire on all cylinders to take out ACC leading scorer Terrell Stoglin (21.4 ppg) and the Terrapins.
Projected Starting Lineups:
C Reggie Johnson 6’10 290 JR
F Kenny Kadji 6’11 260 SO
G Trey McKinney-Jones 6’5 216 JR
G Malcolm Grant 6’1 188 SR
G Durand Scott 6’4 198 JR
F James Padgett 6’8 215 JR
F Ashton Pankey 6’9 220 FR
G Pe’Shon Howard 6’3 195 SO
G Sean Mosely 6’4 210 SN
G Terrell Stoglin 6’1 185 SO
Keys to the Game: Keep firing Malcolm!! Yes Malcolm Grant has been in a prolonged shooting slump. His last effort against Wake Forest he was 3-10 on threes, and his shooting percentage in ACC games overall has been alarming. The good news for Grant is that Coach Larranaga is clearly in his corner. His shot selection has improved slightly in the last few, and a high percentage of the shots he’s missed have been long. In other words there is nothing physically wrong with him. Grant is one big game from breaking out big time. Something tells me tonight is the night.
Take control early. Maryland is no easy place to play. If the crowd gets into it, Miami will have a tough game on its hands. With Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji down low, Miami has a big size advantage and should dominate the boards. Durand Scott should be able to penetrate at will. Terrell Stoglin is going to get his, but Miami must make Stoglin’s running mate Sean Mosely and promising big man Alex Len non factors.
Best Match-up: Rion Brown VS Nick Faust. Maryland’s 6’6 freshman swing man appears to suddenly get it, The highly touted Faust is averaging 14 ppg over his last three. Faust is the most athletic guy on the Terps roster, but Brown specializes in shutting just such a player down. Brown also got it done on the offensive end last time out with 11 against Wake Forest, and has been abusing the rim of late with some of the best dunks in the conference.
Here’s an example of Brown’s athleticism off the nice feed from Trey McKinney Jones.
Prediction: Miami has more at stake than Maryland and therefore should come up more aggressive. Stoglin and Faust will do enough to keep the Terps in it, but Malcolm Grant will rediscover his stroke and Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji will be too much inside. Miami gets a hard-fought victory 73-68.
Here is our full Q&A with Jeremy Gold of http://turtle-soup.com/ Be sure to check out his site to see our answers to his Q&A as well.
C6: How would you classify Mark Turgeon’s first year in College Park? What does Maryland need to do for the remainder of this year and in the future to be more successful?
TS: Mark Turgeon is an EXCELLENT basketball coach. This team is young and relatively unheralded. Even Terrell Stoglin was barely in the Top 100 coming out of high school. Given the lack of talent and injuries, what this team has accomplished is remarkable. The Terps beat Notre Dame with 7 scholarship players. They have a legitimate shot to be .500 in the ACC. As for the future, the Terps have a good recruiting class coming in with Shaquille Cleare being the centerpiece. He’ll be a great compliment to Alex Len. If Stoglin stays and he learns to share the ball better, the Terps will be Top 25.
C6: What did you see in the first match-up between these teams that would Maryland confidence? What makes Miami potentially a difficult opponent for the Terps?
TS: The Terps came back in large part due to Miami’s foul problems. It doesn’t appear that the Canes can guard Stoglin so he will need to remain hot if the Terps are to have a chance. The Terps big men are not stout enough defensively and that could really hurt the Terps if the Miami big men can get it going.
C6: Alex Len appears to have serious potential, but is inconsistent. In the games he has struggled, has it just been a matter of not getting him the ball enough? Do Maryland fans feel like Terrell Stoglin takes too many shots?
TS: It’s more than just not getting shots. He’s still learning the game. Most of the time, he just doesn’t know what to do in the offense or how to get good position on his defender. He continually makes rookie mistakes like bringing the ball down when he gets an offensive rebound. He is, however, an unreal talent with good shooting ability, athleticism, and ridiculous size. He needs to get to a big man camp in the offseason. If he does that he could be the most improved player in the ACC next season.
C6: How do you see this game playing out? What is your prediction?
TS: I think the Terps will pull it out late. They’ve proven that they can play with Miami and the Terps are stout at home. Out of the ACC, only UNC and Duke have won at Comcast this year.
C6: How many/which teams from the ACC do you see making the NCAA Tournament?
TS: I think 6 teams should get in. Miami would be the 6th team but they will need to win 9 games in the ACC plus 1 game in the ACC Tournament. I think that is doable. The Terps will likely need four wins in Atlanta to get in. Mark Turgeon said as much at his press conference this week.
Thanks again to Jeremy and http://turtle-soup.com/ for working on this preview with us.