16 Duke (18-6) vs. Maryland (17-7)
College Park, Md. (Comcast Center)
5:00 p.m., FSN
Program Vitals Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference Nickname: Terrapins Colors: Black, Red, and Yellow Head Coach: Gary Williams (18th year) Career Record at Maryland: 370-198 (577-326 Overall)
Projected Starters: 2 D.J. Strawberry (6-5, 205, Sr.) – 14.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.9 apg 23 Mike Jones (6-5, 200, Sr.) – 12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg 15 James Gist (6-8, 230, Jr.) – 12.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg 25 Ekene Ibekwe (6-9, 215, Sr.) – 10.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg 21 Greivis Vasquez (6-5, 195, Fr.) – 9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.0 apg Key Reserves: 50 Bambale Osby (6-8, 255, Jr.) – 5.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg 5 Eric Hayes (6-3, 175, Fr.) – 5.5 ppg, 3.8 apg 24 Parrish Brown (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 3.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg 31 Will Bowers. (7-1, 260, Sr.) - 2.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Saturday night's match up will be the 160th time the Blue Devils and Hoyas have met with Duke holding a 101-58 all-time lead in the series. After compiling a 26-21 overall record at Cole Field House, the Blue Devils have gone just 2-2 in the new Comcast Center. It's a testament to Maryland's relative success against Duke in the last few years, when the Blue Devils have been the dominant program in the ACC. Until the 2006 season, the Terrapins had won five of the previous eight match-ups including a season sweep of the series in the 2005 season. However, things turned back towards the royal blue last season as Duke won both games by an average of 16.0 points. Under Coach K, the Blue Devils are 42-18 all time against Maryland.
How They Will Enter The Match Up:
Both teams enter Sunday's game looking for a much needed victory - especially the Blue Devils. After winning five straight conference games, Duke has lost three straight to fall to just 5-5 in the league. One more conference loss in the team's finals six games, and Duke will be assured of the program's worst ACC record in more than a decade. Sitting at 18-6 overall with seven games remaining, it's the first time in many years that Duke could find themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Meanwhile, Maryland has also had a rough time in the last few weeks. The Terrapins have lost four of their last six ACC games, and lack a real signature victory on the season since defeating Illinois and Michigan State in November.
Young Blue Devils Must Prepare Themselves:
For the most hostile environment they will see all season. Terrapin faithful hold Duke as their arch rival, and usually produce their most spirited efforts when the Blue Devils come to Comcast. In other words Duke will have it rougher than most other opponents at the new arena - which is saying something. Maryland is 68-14 all time at their new facility, and 134-20 (.870) at home the last ten seasons (since 1997-98). The Terps are the only ACC team to have a better home winning percentage than Duke's road winning percentage (.812) over the past 10 seasons.
Terrapins Have Been In Battles Before:
One major difference between the two rosters is the experience advantage enjoyed by Coach Williams' team. Whereas Duke has just one junior in the regular eight to nine player rotation, Maryland counters with seven of the top nine players being juniors and seniors. The leaders are backcourt seniors D.J. Strawberry and former McDonalds All American, Mike Jones. The duo combine for nearly 25 points, and seven rebounds per game. Strawberry is one of the conferences best defensive players - logging 2.4 steals per game. Meanwhile Jones is a perimeter assassin that shoots nearly 43% from the behind the arc. He's also an 83% converter from the foul line.
The frontcourt boasts one of the conference's better athletes in senior Ekene Ibekwe. Unfortunately for Maryland, the 6'9 senior has been inconsistent throughout the season. There have been nights when he's been great - scoring inside, grabbing double figure rebounds, altering shots, etc. But there have been just as many nights when he's disappeared from the stat sheet. His best games of the season came in a 92-87 victory over Clemson when Ibekwe logged 20 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.
Even More Contrast In Styles:
After facing the ACC's top scoring offense in their last game, and surrendering a season high 79 points, the Blue Devils must rebound and face the conference's third highest scoring team. The Terps boast the third highest scoring average in the league (80.5 ppg), and have four players averaging double figures, with a fifth at just a shade under 10.0 points per contest. Maryland has outscored its opponents by an average of 13.0 points per game this season. That is the second best scoring margin in the ACC behind North Carolina (22.0).
Strawberry Keys Maryland's Defense:
With one of ACC's best defenders on the roster, the Terps have shown the ability to pressure opponents into making mistakes in bunches. So, valuing the basketball will be paramount for the young Blue Devils as they head into one of the most hostile environments in the nation. The Terps lead the ACC and are fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.382), and are holding opponents to just 29 percent (132-of-457) from three-point range which ranks second in the league. Maryland is also averaging just over seven steals per game, and blocking seven shots per night - it all culminates in the team forcing 18 turnovers per game.
Blue Devils Can Run:
After working as a halfcourt team for most of the season, the Blue Devils showed a new side against arch rival North Carolina on Wednesday - getting out and running in a fast paced first half in which the Blue Devils were dominant at times. Benefiting most from the new style of play was freshman Gerald Henderson who scored eight first half points, while classmate Jon Scheyer was able to get numerous open looks as his teammates slashed and attacked the basket. Point guard Greg Paulus also seemed to thrive in the more up tempo style, logging four assists and no turnovers. However, the sophomore's shooting took a major dip as he finished just 5-of-17 from the field.