The Teams: Maryland Terrapins 21-11 (8-10) vs. #2 Duke Blue Devils 27-4 (14-4)
The Time: 7:00 PM
The Place: Greensboro Coliseum – Greensboro, N.C.
TV/Radio: ESPN2 and 105.7 FM/980 AM
The Line: Duke -11
Who doesn’t love a rubber match? That is precisely what we will have this evening when the #7 seed Maryland Terrapins face off against the #2 seed Duke Blue Devils for the third time in the last seven weeks.
The Blue Devils took the first round of this years series by whalloping the Terrapins at Cameron Indoor 84-64 on January 26th on a day where Rasheed Sulaimon made sure all Maryland fans knew the freshman’s name after pouring in 25 points and hitting 6/8 attempts from beyond the arc. The Terps trailed Duke by 8 at the half on that afternoon and never got back in it as Duke ran away from them on their home floor outscoring them 41-29 in the final 20 minutes of action.
The Blue Devils traveled to College Park, MD on February 16th for round II and, not shockingly, the Terrapins proved to play much better on their home floor at a raucous Comcast Center. Alex Len was a different player on this date than he was a few weeks prior when the same two teams met in Durham (8 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes) as he dominated Mason Plumlee the entire evening finishing with 19 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 6/8 from the field.
Even though the Terrapins were able to come away with a memorable 83-81 victory over their rival, in what could have been the last meeting between the two in College Park, Maryland did not make it easy on themselves. As a team, the Terps shot 60% from the field but had to sweat out a Quinn Cook runner from just inside of half court before they could exhale and enjoy the victory as Maryland turned the ball over an astonishing 26 times on their way to the upset win.
Heading into tonight’s match up Maryland will be facing the Blue Devils at full strength for the first time this season as Duke F Ryan Kelly, who averages 14.6 PPG and 5.6 RPG, missed both meetings in the regular season due to injury. As you have read here, or any other website mentioning Duke for that matter, the Blue Devils have yet to lose this season when Kelly is in the line up so the Terps will be facing an uphill battle tonight as they look to be the first team to knock off Duke with their roster intact. Coming into this evening the Blue Devils are looked at as a fairly heavy favorite as they should have the majority of the crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum behind them in this match up.
The Terrapins have shown they are capable of besting the Blue Devils when they aren’t at the top of their game, it still boggles my mind how they were able to beat Duke after committing 26 turnovers in a single game, but tonight they will need to bring their best effort if they want to survive and advance. Alex Len needs to be the player he was the second time around against Plumlee and Co., while the guards have to take care of the basketball better for Maryland to have a chance to win the season series with Duke. If Seth Allen, Dez Wells and Nick Faust combine for 18 turnovers again it won’t matter how well they are shooting it on the evening they will be hard pressed to walk off the floor tonight with a win under their belts.
Like I stated last night in my recap of the win over Wake Forest the Terrapins will be a team fighting for their postseason lives tonight while Duke is all but locked into being a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Terps need a win tonight and, more than likely, another win tomorrow if they even want to have a shot at punching a ticket to the Big Dance. If Maryland comes out hungrier for a victory than the Blue Devils are they will be a dangerous team to face, we’ll see who wants the win worse in just under 7 hours time when these two rivals take the floor to stake claim on the season series.