#7 Duke Blue Devils (20-4overall, 8-2ACC)
Sat Feb 13th 1pm Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC
PF: MD: 80.2. Duke: 80.7 PA: MD: 65.0. Duke: 62.6
Last game: MD: def UNC 92-71 Duke: def UNC 64-54
Not our rivals.... this is a chant you will inedibly here from the Duke students on Sunday referring to the Terps fans claiming that Duke and Maryland are big rivals. While the Duke fans fail to believe it, the stats would indicate otherwise. The Terps have defeated the Blue Devils nine times this decade, including twice at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the atmosphere in all those contests has been just as, if not more intense, than the vaunted Duke/North Carolina games. Last year, the Terps went into Durham and left on the wrong side of a 85-44 beat down that left the team and their coach for dead. This team rebounded from that loss to make the NCAA Tournament last year and you better believe they will use it as motivation when they travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium this Saturday. All the snow storm and cancellation of the Virginia game has done for the Terps was shift their focus 100 percent to the Blue Devils , while the Blue Devils are coming off a hard fought, sloppy performance against North Carolina. Cameron Indoor Stadium will be rocking and the Cameron crazies will definitely have a few chants for the Greivis Vasquez and the Terps. Unfortunately for the crazies, the Terps won't be intimidated and they may turn those taunts into even more fuel for their fire.
The Blue Devils are number seven in the country for a reason and they may be the toughest team to beat on their own home floor. Jon Scheyer's 19.1 ppg has him at the top of many people's (however, not my) list for the ACC player year, while back court mate Nolan Smith has increased his offensive productivity from last season, averaging 17.7 ppg. Preseason ACC Player of the Year pick Kyle Singler is the only other Blue Devil in double figures averaging 16.7ppg, and surprisingly his seven rebounds per game also leads the team. Stopping those three is a challenge, but given the lack of scoring from the rest of the team, stopping them is the key to victory. The Blue Devils are made up of three big time scorers and four or five role players who don't average more then six points per game. The fact that Singler leads them in rebounding is a sign of their weakness inside, and they have been exploited by teams with good big men.
Despite losing by 41 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium last season, and returning virtually the same team from that loss, the Terps match up with the Blue Devils better then any team in the ACC and have no fear going into Durham. The Terps have more experienced and just as talented guards as Duke, and posses a tremendous advantage in depth and interior play over the Blue Devils. Jordan Williams has emerged as a legitimate scoring and rebounding threat, but he is still a freshman and will make his first trip into the most hostile environment in the conference. If Williams can avoid the deer in headlights look, then the Terps have more then a good chance of winning. Unlike Duke, the Terps have more then three players that can carry the team at any point. As I mentioned earlier, the Terps will have to worry about the big threeof Duke, however, anyone in the Terps starting five is a scoring threat that can take over a game and create a mismatch for Duke. After the starting five, the likes of Tucker, Bowie and Gregory give the Terms a tremendous advantage over the Blue Devils and also could be major factors in the game. Just because Maryland has the talent to win in Durham, doesn't mean they will, Foul trouble and turnovers seem to haunt them more often then not in Durham and if it does Saturday, then it will be long a day and a long trip back to College Park.
I want to preface things by saying that the Duke Blue Devils might be my least favorite and most hated team in any sport. That being said, I can and will pick this game objectively based on the stats, players and match ups more so then my heart. This is going to be a tremendous game, one that the Terps have a tremendous shot to win. The Terps won't be intimidated going into Cameron Indoor Stadium, despite losing last season by 41 points. Both teams a the top two teams in the ACC for a reason and if you asked Duke's players who they want to play least in the conference, they would say the Terps. Ultimately, this game comes down to the home court advantage and the sickening way that Duke seems to always pull out games at home. The Cameron Crazies are likely to force at least a one turnover and I expect the officials to be whistle happy against the visiting team. The Terps will keep it close but Duke will pull it out and move to 9-2 in the conference. Duke 83, Terps 78.