The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (5-4) at Boston College Eagles (3-6)
The Place: Silvio O. Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, MA
The Time: 7:00 pm EST
The Coaches: Mark Turgeon (47-32 at Maryland) and Steve Donahue (49-58 at Boston College)
The Backstory: The Maryland Terrapins are looking to right the ship after losing two of their last three games as they head to Boston College for their first ACC game of the season. The Terps decided to take on a healthy non-conference slate of games this season (to remove the criticism of playing cream puffs that the team received last year), and so far the results have been somewhat disappointing. A double digit loss to Ohio State on the road and a last second buzzer beater that saw the Terps drop one against George Washington puts Boston College as a must-win game on the schedule.
Boston College, meanwhile, has had their fair share of problems as well. A tough non-conference slate of their own has them sitting at 3-6 after dropping two games in a row to Purdue and USC leading into the Terps game. In many ways, the two teams mirror one another; both looking to take a big step up from last season and into the tournament, both disappointing from an expectations standpoint. But who comes out the victor in this one is going to come down to execution; the differences between these teams is far from massive.
Keys To The Game
1.) Shutting down the third option
Boston College has two primary scoring options: Ryan Anderson in the paint, and Olivier Hanlan everywhere else. These two combine to average 37.2 points per game, and the Eagles only average 76.4. The logic is simple; let Anderson and Hanlan get theirs, and shut down the rest of the team. Hanlan is an incredibly difficult player to guard, and he’s particularly adept at drawing fouls from big men and reaching guards. Stopping him, for most teams, is just not a feasible option. His first step is phenomenal, and his decision making is near NBA levels. Anderson, meanwhile, is hyper efficient and won’t take a bad shot if he doesn’t have it. He also draws fouls, which is why Boston College is so lethal; they can get your big men in trouble, and it opens up the paint.
But outside of those two scorers the Eagles have very little to rely upon. Sophomore guard Joe Rahon may be averaging 12 points per game, but the stats are deceiving in that he’s had three games that he hasn’t scored in double figures. If you can take Rahon out of the game by forcing him into bad shots, Maryland will be in great shape because without him, the Eagles don’t stand a chance. Rather than focus on the first two major options, they should key in on the third best and most crucial to success player; that would be Rahon.
2.) Turnover at the point guard, but don’t turn it over
Roddy Peters is likely to start against Boston College after Mark Turgeon called him “the best point guard on the roster” yesterday. That means the freshman is going to get his second start of the season against an ACC opponent in a road gym. The fans have been clamoring for this move all along, given that he has indeed looked better than the other guards on the roster at initiating the offense. Other freshman point guards starting at Michigan and Syracuse have given reason to believe that this may be the best decision. Still, starting Peters will not be a move that should be taken lightly.
Peters may be the best passer on the roster, but he also turns the ball over at a sky high rate. His per 40 minute statistics suggest that were he to start an entire game, he’d average about six assists, but also nearly six turnovers a game. That’s an incredibly hard metric to get around, and an even harder one to win with. If Peters turns the ball over quite a bit, expect Turgeon to reign him onto the bench. Peters is also a very questionable defender at this stage in the game, and if he can’t stay in front of Rahon and Hanlan, Maryland might have trouble stopping the Eagles.
3.) Rebound, rebound, rebound
Boston College is one of the worst rebounding teams in the NCAA, and Maryland happens to be relatively effective at it. These two things combined suggest that Maryland has an distinct advantage, which they do. Still, that’s contingent on their big men getting more involved on the defensive end and boxing out two decent rebounders in Anderson and Hanlan (believe it or not, their guards are their best rebounders). If Maryland collects tons of boards, it’ll give more opportunities for their offense and mitigate a turnover issue. It will also ensure that those errant Boston College three point shooters don’t get extra chances to score again. Less shots, less points.
Maryland is the better team, Vegas likes them, and they should have an urgency to win. I like the Terps in this one by 5.