Maryland Terrapins (12-5overall, 2-1 ACC)
Sat 4:00pm Comcast Center, College Park MD
Last game: NCST: def Duke 88-74 MD: def Longwood 106-55
PF: NCST: 71.6. MD: 81.1 PA: NCST: 64.7. MD: 65.1
Maryland is 8-1 at home, NCST is 3-2 on the road
The Terps are looking to carry their momentum from beating over matched Boston College and Longwood, into Saturday's game against visiting NC State. The Terps sit in second place in the ACC at 2-1 with two winnable games at home before going on the road against Clemson. In order to reach the 10 win mark in conference, the Terps need to hold serve at home, and that starts Saturday against the Wolfpack.
The Wolfpack have given the Terps problems the last few years and come into College Park off their best win on the season. North Carolina State has six losses on the season, but have lost two non conference games by three points and lost their three conference games by 19 points combined. The Wolfpack have only lost one game by double figures this season, which means they tend to hang around until the final minutes of the game. Tracy Smith paces the Wolfpack offense with 17.2 ppg and scored a season high 23 last game against Duke. How Jordan Williams and Dino Gregory defend Smith will be the key. The Wolfpack are shooting almost 36 percent from 3 point range this season, but the defense collapsing on Smith, will allow him to kick the ball out to open shooters behind the arc. If the Terps play off Smith, he will drive to the basket and could have a field day. Pressuring the entry pass on the perimeter and fronting Smith will be the key for the Terps defense. Paying too much attention to Smith will leave Dennis Horner and his 42 percent 3 point percentage open for some clean looks and could hurt the Terps badly. I expect Vasquez or Mosley to match up on Horner and the inside guys to double on Smith when he touches the ball. The Wolpack have weapons so the Terps will need to play stout defense to win the game.
The Terps have failed to score over 70 points in a game just once on this season, and their offense has been clicking on all cylinders the last three games. The Terps are two points away from being undefeated in conference play this season, and have an opportunity in their next two games to move into first place in conference. Jordan Williams will be the key to victory for the Terps. He is playing with confidence and his rebounding ability on the offensive and defensive glass, as well as his match up against Tracy Smith, will determine if the Terps are victorious or not. The Terps are shooting 44 percent from 3 point range in their last three games and look to continue that hot shooting against the Wolfpack. Landon Milbourne is a match up problem for the Wolfpack and could have a stellar game, while Eric Hayes and Sean Mosley will look to give the Terps a second scoring option in addition to Greivis Vasquez on the perimeter.
Both teams come into the game hot and believing they can win. The Terps are looking to move into first place in the ACC while the Wolfpack are looking to climb back to the .500 mark in conference and avoid a let down from their impressive win against Duke. The Wolfpack have North Carolina in their next game, but there is no way they will be looking ahead. The Terps will not over look the Wolfpack and I expect them to come out sharp and focused. North Carolina State provides some match up problems for the Terps, but the Terps have more talent and the home court advantage. I expect this game to be close early but believe the Terps pull it out late to improve to 3-1 in conference. Terps 79, NC ST. 70.