The North Carolina Tar Heels host the Maryland Terrapins looking to establish some consistency after defeating Florida State in Tallahassee last weekend and draw even in ACC play.
UNC has had an up and down season and come into the game with an 11-5 record and just 1-2 in the ACC. One thing that haven’t done is put together back to back impressive wins, after defeating FSU on their home floor a win against the Terps would be huge for the young Heels confidence.
Maryland is an interesting team to talk about they started off 13-1 suffering only a three point loss in Lexington against Kentucky to open the season. Then after losing two straight at the start of ACC play, they knocked off 14th ranked NC State. The knock on the Terps who despite their good looking record haven’t been ranked all season long was their weak schedule, with a #71 RPI and a strength of schedule at #182 and only two games against top 50 teams, but again, they knocked off NC State.
Led by sophomore center Alex Len, Maryland is fairly deep with ten players averaging double digit minutes they won’t easily tire out against the Heels. This team won’t try and outrun Carolina and like most teams will try and slow it down and control the tempo. The Terps are a terrific rebounding team tied with UNC at 43.2 per game (2nd in the nation) if they are able to win the rebounding battle they could get the tempo they want and try their luck in the half court where the Heels have had less than stellar defense.
Aside from rebounding Maryland is a terrific defensive team, MD leads the ACC in defensive field goal percentage and ranks third nationally. They defend the three well and UNC will have to get be aggressive attacking the basket if they want to be successful against this team offensively.
Keys to Victory: Control the tempo, contain Alex Len and avoid what has been the crutch of this team the entire season; playing with a lack of effort and failing to close the team out. This is a chance for Carolina to show that they have got over the hump of playing with their heads down and allowing lesser teams to beat them by sending the Terps back to Maryland with a loss. Maybe even the most important key is not getting pushed around in the paint. The Heels will need James Michael McAdoo, Desmond Hubert and Brice Johnson to have a post presence and be aggressive on the boards.
Prediction: UNC begins to climb the ladder with their second straight victory to pull even in the ACC. The Heels don’t control the tempo until the second half but put up a good defensive effort and win by double digits 76-65.
Reminder to UNC fans in attendance, 2014 point guard prospect Joel Berry will be in attendance for his official visit. He is a very important recruit for the Heels, show him the love and make him feel welcome and wanted in Chapel Hill.