Maryland starts 3 sophomores and a freshman and also gets contributions from 3 freshmen off the bench that play regularly. BC has 2 sophomores and 3 freshmen that regularly get a lot of minutes on their team. Since both teams feature a lot of youth and inexperience matched up with lots of raw skills, it's still hard to predict when everything will gel for both teams.
So far this year, the Terps (6-3) have had more ups than downs, but aside from a win against an average Illinois team there's nothing on their resume that jumps out at you. The same can be said for BC (6-1), who has wins over URI and Michigan, but really no other names that are worth mentioning. The winner of this game will be able to hang their hat on the win as a good early season victory.
PPG Vasquez 16.3
REB Gist 7.4
AST Vasquez 6.0
FT% Hayes 88.5
BLK Osby 2.4
STL Gist 1.6
Boston College Leaders
PPG Rice 21.2
REB Spears 10.0
AST Rice 6.2
FT% Rice 88.9
BLK Blair 4.3
STL Rice 1.7
Why Maryland Will Win (Marlyand's Strengths/ BC's weaknesses):
The Terps like to press 2-1-2 half court and force their opponents into making turnovers, or at the very least taking quick shots. Will BC's young players succumb to Maryland trying to force quick shots and tough passes before the Eagles can setup their flex offense? With so much inexperience on BC's roster it's tough to convince someone that there's no chance of that happening.
Offensively, in the half court set, Maryland would be smart to get the ball to James Gist (14 ppg). The 6'8" forward can muscle it inside with the big men, but he can also take a big defender out on the perimeter with him and drive by his man. Gist is a very tough guy to matchup with, and I don't see many guys on the BC roster that can do it.
Finally, it will be interesting to see how much the crowd can play a factor in this game. So far, BC has played 5 games in front of their home crowd of less than 5,000 people, a game at the Garden in Boston with a mixed crowd of Providence fans, and a game at Michigan in front of a moderately noisy crowd. The Comcast Center, will be the loudest crowd BC's young freshman have played against yet. Will it cause any of them to lose their composure in a tight spot? It's hard to believe it won't at some point.
Why Boston College Will Win (BC's Strengths/Maryland's weaknesses)
So far, Maryland hasn't looked like a cohesive team on the court. They have quite a few guys with a lot of individual talent, but it seems like they don't all trust each other yet, due to limited experience playing together.
The end result of the Terps' not playing like a unit had lead to two things: The first is that a lot of guys are trying to make tough shots instead of making the extra pass to a teammate. The ends result of that is why Maryland is in the bottom 1/4 of the ACC in FG% and 3-Point FG%.
Secondly, on top of poor shooting, the rate that the Terps' have been turning over the ball is almost as eye popping as the latest pictures of Jennifer Love Hewitt (JLH Picture). The Terps are averaging 19 turnovers p/game, which puts them last in the ACC in that category. Additionally, Maryland has a turnover margin of -3.4 on the year which is next to last in the conference.
Things haven't exactly been better for Maryland on the defensive end either. Yes, they get their fair share of steals and blocks, but many times opponents are driving to the hoop at will against the Terps'. Both Tyrese Rice and Rakim Sanders should have no problems penetrating the hoop on Sunday.
Match up to watch: Tyrese Rice vs Greivis Vasquez
Rice and Vasquez completely run the show for their respective teams, as both players lead their team in points and assists. When either PG has the ball in their hands, they pose a clear advantage over the other, as neither player is a stud on the defensive end. If one of these guys really out-performs the other on Sunday it will probably be the deciding factor in the outcome of the game.
One thing to keep an eye on is Vasquez's poor 12-for-51 shooting performance from behind the arc this season. Vasquez has seemed content with launching 3's, even with plenty of time left on the shot clock in some situations. Rice isn't the best defender in the world, but if Vasquez continues his poor shooting it will allow Rice to back off Vasquez a little bit and cut him off from driving to the hoop.
Final Analysis: Maryland's in-cohesiveness on offense really scares me away from picking them over BC. With so many question marks coming into this game, I thought that if I sat down to watch the Terps' against Morgan State on Thursday night, that I'd come away thinking that the Terps' could defend their home court against BC. I also believed that against an inferior opponent like Morgan State that I'd see the Terps' click on all cylinders on offense. Instead, I saw much of same as I've seen all year with too many guys forcing bad shots and not making an extra pass. Once again, Maryland played sloppy, as they inexplicably committed 18 turnovers, with 7 coming from Vazquez.
The final key to the game on Sunday will be which team controls the tempo. With the Terps' playing so sloppy it's tough for them to play up-tempo like they'd like to. The Eagles have done a better job holding onto the ball of late, as they've committed an average of 12 turnovers in their last 3 games, which is 3 below their season average. The Eagles will leave College Park with a narrow victory.
Next up for BC: 12/12 vs UMass
If you're looking for a game with a lot of scoring, you'll enjoy these two teams play. The Minutemen have scored 89 points or more in 5 of 7 games this season.