Preview: Duke (18-2) v. Maryland (14-7)

After the intense battle against arch rival North Carolina, the Blue Devils return to the court Saturday night to face quasi-rival Maryland in an important ACC match-up. A win keeps the Devils in stride for another ACC regular season title, while a loss could spell the end of Duke's title hopes. Tip off is scheduled for 9:00 EST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Coming into Cameron Indoor on January 26th, there was little doubt that Maryland was going to play as well as they had all season. From the opening tip the Terrapins were the more aggressive team, taking it to Duke for most of the night. Despite a Duke run to build an eight point lead, Maryland would battle back and put the Blue Devils away 75-66.

The outcome was decided midway through the second half when the Terps' Nik Caner-Medley got hot from the outside, torching the Devils for 25 points, while the Duke offense all but forgot about their inside advantage in the form of Shelden Williams, quickly settling for jump shots, which didn't fall. On the evening Duke shot just 33% for the game and a horrendous 28% from the perimeter. Meanwhile Maryland stuck with their game plan and took care of the basketball for much of the evening, coming away with the win.

The loss served as a motivational tool as the Blue Devils returned to Cameron just a few hours afterwards for a 12:00 AM practice session called by Coach K. Since then Duke rolled past Virginia Tech, took Wake Forest to the wire in Winston, pasted Georgia Tech, and upset North Carolina to remain atop the ACC standings.

On the flip side, Maryland followed up their terrific performance in Cameron by beating Georgia Tech at home. Then, as has been this team's habit, the Terps lost puzzling games to Clemson and Miami before rebounding with a 15 point win over Virginia Tech. Still, with Duke coming to town it's a safe bet that Gary Williams' team will be ready to go, and the crowd will be nothing short of hostile.

Duke will certainly have little room for error on Saturday, and will have to play with a real sense of urgency, not the lethargic play that was displayed in round one. Maryland will certainly have that urgency as they sit at just 5-5 in conference play and 14-7 on the season – hardly a lock for a post season bid at this point.

Note: Power forward Ekene Ibekwe is not expected to play after being sidelined with busted ribs.

Meet the Terrapins:

C- Travis Garrison (6'8, 240, JR) – Many in College Park projected Garrison to be the closest thing to Lonny Baxter since the former Terp left school. With a similar look and build, Garrison was a major problem for the Blue Devils last season in the ACC Tournament, scorching Duke for 19 points and seven rebounds. Despite his size, Garrison is able to step away and can hit mid range jumpers with regularity, although he is streaky. He can even pull his man all the way out to the perimeter, though Williams wouldn't object if his center would concentrate himself on the low blocks a bit more.

This season has seen a noticeable upswing in Garrison's production as he's averaging 9.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, good enough for second on the team. He's doing all this in just 24 minutes per night, though he's coming off a game that saw him log just 12 minutes due to gaining four fouls.

Over his last three games, Garrison has picked up 13 fouls, including being disqualified in the loss to Clemson. In the first meeting he scored nine points but was once against saddled with foul trouble and had serious problems with Shelden Williams inside.

Round One: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 fouls in 19 minutes.

PF- James Gist (6'9, 220, FR) – A long and wirery freshman with loads of potential once he grasps the game's finer points. Despite being considered somewhat "raw", Gist has been very good early on in his career, averaging six and four rebounds in just under 18 minutes per game, though in ACC play his numbers have steadily declined. However, the injury to Ibekwe has forced Williams to play Gist more and more, and the results have been solid as the freshman is scoring just over six points and pulling in nearly five rebounds over his last three games.

A staple on the end of the bench in the first match up, Gist saw just three minutes against the Blue Devils in Cameron, but is expected to start on Saturday in College Park.

Round One: 1 points, 1 rebound, in 3 minutes.

SF- Nik Caner-Medley (6'8, 235, JR) – Aside from point guard John Gilchrist, Caner-Medley is Maryland's most dangerous player, and some may argue he holds that title alone. With the size of a power forward, he has the skill set of a big time wing. He's able to hurt you from the perimeter or off the dribble, and isn't afraid to battle for junk baskets inside.

Last season he seemed to get worn down as the Terps' made their miracle run through the ACC, scoring a combined nine points against Wake and Duke before fouling out in just 27 minutes against the Blue Devils in the finals. This year he's worked hard to continue to diversify his offensive attack and is the team's leading scorer (16.8) and third best rebounder (5.7).

Despite working on his perimeter game over the course of the last year, he remains just a 32% shooter from the perimeter, though he can get extremely hot as evident from his showing in Cameron, when he caught fire in the second half and hit a trio of perimeter jumpers over Duke's J.J. Redick.

Defensively he can get into trouble against smaller and quicker players who can go around him, though he's improved his lateral quickness since last year. Offensively his big enough to create match up problems for smaller players, but quick enough to give bigger defenders all kinds of problems.

As Medley goes, the Terps go. When he's hot, they've been nearly unbeatable since the Duke game. When he's off, as he was against Clemson and Miami (just a combined 17 points on 6-of-24 shooting), Maryland is extremely vulnerable.

Round One: 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals in 37 minutes.

SG- Chris McCray (6'5, 180, JR) – McCray's calling card as a sophomore was certainly not on the offensive end, but on the defensive side of the ball. And, with Gary Williams patrolling the sidelines, that counted for a lot when it came to earning a spot on the floor. So, for much of his second full season, the 6'5 scoring guard was more guard than scoring. Eventually McCray found some confidence and produced double figure performances in five of the Terps' last seven games including 20 points as Maryland rolled past UVa in the opening round of the tournament.

This season he's still a terrific on the ball defender who is usually assigned to the opposition's best perimeter threat. The difference this year has been the advancement of his offensive game as he's failed to hit double figures only four times in 21 games. On the season he's averaging 12.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

A terrific free throw shooter (92%), McCray has yet to prove a lethal threat from the perimeter where he's hitting just 29% of his attempts for the season, though he's found his stroke of late – hitting 7-of-15 over the last three games.

In Cameron McCray was charged with shadowing J.J. Redick along with Caner-Medley. The duo held the Duke star to just 7-of-21 from the field, but McCray's offense took a dive to the tune of a 3-of-11 shooting night. Though, as has been his career's calling card, his defense was much more valuable.

Round One: 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals in 36 minutes.

G- John Gilchrist (6'3, 200, JR) – Gilchrist put together a strong end to his junior season, to the tune of 62 points, 18 rebounds, and 19 assists in Maryland's ACC Title run. That three game stretch, along with similar heroics in the early NCAAs had many NBA types knocking on his door over the summer.

With terrific athleticism and a strong body, Gilchrist is the kind of lead guard Jason Williams was for Duke, albeit a "Diet" version. Still, that's good enough to be considered a lock for the first round of the NBA Draft, if not the lottery. And therein lies the troubles the junior has encountered this year.

Williams has publicly called out his point guard for being too centered on getting his stats without involving his teammates. Given the relative inexperience of the Terps' roster, Gilchrist's inability to involve his teammates has caused the Maryland offense to consist of one player and four props at times. Ideally he's a two guard, but will have to learn to be more of a true point guard before making the jump to the league according to his coach.

This season he's been tremendous on several occasions, and woeful on others. After what Williams perceived as a poor performance against North Carolina, Gilchrist was held to just nine minutes against Wake Forest as the Terps were once again hammered. Since that time he's made an effort to be more selective on offense, and has produced solid numbers on a near consistent basis.

He certainly gave Duke trouble in the first match up, winning several hustle plays and guiding his team to the victory. Despite some early troubles handling the ball against the Duke defense, Gilchrist tightened up and made several key plays down the stretch to keep the Devils at bay.

Round One: 10 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 6 turnovers in 39 minutes.

The Reserves

Sixth man DJ Strawberry has been lost to injury, which, in theory, means more playing time for former McDonalds All-American Mike Jones (6'5, 196, SO), who was a terrific high school prospect that hasn't found favor with Williams in his early career. Perhaps the team's best perimeter threat, Jones is also a good ball handler who can get to the rim and finish. Where he is lacking, as with many young players, is the defensive end which doesn't translate into floor time under his college coach. Also spelling the backcourt is junior Sterling Ledbetter (6'4, 195, JR), a big point guard who sees the floor and plays tough defense, though he's not a true offensive threat. Small forward Mike Grinnon (6'6, 210, SR) is a smart player who is always in the correct position, and doesn't miss too many assignments on the defensive end though hasn't proven to be a serious offensive threat. Other post help comes from Will Bowers (7'1, 245, SO) who surprised Duke in the first match up with his size and hustle, picking up seven rebounds while gathering a few garbage buckets inside.

Game Notes:
courtesy of Duke Sports Information

This will mark the 157th meeting between Duke and Maryland with the Blue Devils holding a 99-57 series advantage. Duke has won 14 of the past 20 meetings between the two schools, but has dropped the last two games in the series.

- No. 2 North Carolina was the highest-ranked opponent Duke defeated since beating No. 2 Michigan State, 68-62, on March 27, 1999, in the Final Four

- This marks the 22nd consecutive game that Duke enters a Maryland game ranked among the nation's top 10 teams. Maryland has been ranked in the top 25 in 17 of those 22 games as well

- The Maryland game on the road is the first of a rough end of season slate for Duke. The Blue Devils finish the regular season with five of their last seven games away from home

- Duke averages more points in games played away from Cameron Indoor Stadium (85.7) than at home (79.9) this season. The Blue Devils have shot .539 from the field in seven away games and .430 in 13 home contests

- Duke has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than .500 from the field this season. In 11 of 20 games, opponents have shot less than .400 from the floor against the Blue Devils' defense

Betting Line:


TDD Prediciton:

Maryland -77

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