The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (15-6, 3-5 ACC) vs Wake Forest (10-10, 3-5 ACC)
The Time: 2:00 PM
The Location: Comcast Center, College Park, Maryland.
TV/Radio: ESPN3, 105.7 FM
The Backstory: The Maryland Terrapins have more than a few reasons to be downtrodden lately. They have lost three of their last four games, but the manner in which they have lost them is what makes them so, well, bad. One loss by ten points (which could have been more) @ UNC, a blowout loss @ Duke that was as bad as it got, and a last second loss @ Florida State thanks to some botched defense. You know, things that, when piled on consecutively, crush the will of teams.
Mark Turgeon is a very good coach, and there’s still confidence that he can get Alex Len out of his mini-slump (12 points and 15 rebounds over the last two games combined) in time for another not-that-easy opponent. Pe’Shon Howard is expected to return to the lineup, and while his offense has been less-than-stellar, he is expected to aid in cutting down the turnover issue that has plagued Maryland all season.
Meanwhile, Wake Forest has been nearly as bad as Maryland lately, losing four of their last five games (their only win being against North Carolina State). The Demon Deacons have been on and off this year, with impressive wins against UVA, Xavier, and NC State this year, but bad losses to Clemson and Virginia Tech along the way. It’s hard to tell which version of Wake Forest is going to show up, but you can rest assured that when they are on the road, it’s more than likely the bad rendition (they have lost five of their six road games this year).
So what makes the Deacons so Demonly on the court? Travis McKie and C.J. Harris, the front court-back court combo that is averaging the majority of their points this year. Long-time Terrapin followers know about Harris, the senior guard who is averaging 14 points per game and has been going up against the Terps for a long time. He isn’t much of a passer, but he is very much a solid guard.
The Deacons real threat offensively is McKie, who is averaging 15 points and eight rebounds per game. He generally did some pretty good things against Maryland the past few seasons, as he broke the 20 points mark both times last year. He isn’t the biggest player on the court, but he is very effective. Unfortunately this is a road game, so no matter what the Deacons do, it may not be enough.
Keys to the Game
1.) I feel like I’m repeating myself, but….turnovers
This point has been beaten into the ground but it’s really the only point that is keeping the Terrapins from being a successful team. Consider that against Florida State, they turned the ball over 18 times. If they scrap just five of those from their total, they have five more possessions. Now figure they convert a meager 2 of those 5 possessions into points. Four measly points. That turns the game into a win.
It’s that simple. Stop. Turning. The. Ball. Over. So. Much. With. Sloppy. Play.
2.) Shut down Travis McKie
McKie has been fantastic against the Terrapins during his three-year career, scoring in double figures over all four games. He is a very adept rebounder for being significantly undersized at 6’7, but don’t let that fool you. He has a nose for the ball and without question an ability to score. McKie creates a bit of a matchup problem since he can score from just about anywhere on the court, so it will be interesting to see who Maryland sticks on him.
Dez Wells might actually be the best candidate for the job, as he has the versatility and speed to match up with McKie relatively well. What’s most impressive about him is that he is so good at scoring in spite of not having, really, any point guard to give him the ball. The only player who can keep up with a guy that is that active on the court is really Dez.