North Carolina St. Wolfpack (14-12overall, 2-9 ACC)
2/17/10 9PM RBC Center, Raleigh. NC
PF: MD: 79.4. NCST: 69.0 PA: MD: 65.5. NCST: 66.0
Last game: MD: def UVA 85-66. NCST: lost to UNC 74-61
Maryland is 5-3 on the road, NCST is 8-6 at home.
On January 20th, the Wolfpack beat Duke at home and everyone thought they were a team on the rise and were tough to beat home. Since then they have lost their last six conference game, two of which by a combined 34 points at home. In the past, despite their record, the Wolfpack have always been a tough out in conference, but this season, they are losing games by large margins. Since they beat Duke the Wolfpack have lost their conference games by 14,14,12,2,20 and 13 points and look to be running out of gas after some close losses earlier in the year.
The Terps have struggled on the road this season and have struggled in Raleigh in the past, but they blew out the Wolfpack earlier this season and the same is likely to happen Wednesday. The road losses for the Terps this season have come in hostile environments like LittleJohn Coliseum and Cameron Indoor Stadium, but the RBC Coliseum, is no where near the home court advantage that those are, so I don't expect the Terps to have trouble at all going to Raleigh. The Terps are beating the ACC bottom feeders and that is precisely what the Wolfpack are. When they play the Wolfpack on Wednesday, the Terps will be playing their third game in five days, but I do not see that effecting them at all. They are an experienced team and Gary will have them more then prepared to face the Wolfpack, less then 48 hours after they drubbing of Virginia.
This game really is all about one thing, if North Carolina State can make three pointers, and if the Terps turn the ball over. If neither of those happens, then Maryland will win easily. If both happen, it will be close game that will come down the final minute. We have seen players like Derwin Kitchen, Jerai Grant, and Brian Zoubek score well over their season average and have career games against the Terps, and the Wolfpack would need a performance like that in order to spring the upset. Dennis Horner and Javier Gonzalez's ability to hit the 3 point shot, means they can get hot any minute, which is something that the Terps definitely need to be cognizant of. Outside of an out of this world performance from any Wolfpack player, the Terps have the advantage at every position on the floor. The Terps have better guards, Jordan Williams shut down Tracy Smith in the first meeting and the Wolfpack have nobody to match up with Landon Milbourne. All those signs point to an easy Terps victory. All they have to do is control the ball and they will leave Raleigh with their 8th conference win of the season.
Everybody who has read my previews knows that I am more then capable of being pessimistic and picking the Terps to lose, but even I can't see anyway, outside of another 20+ turnover performance, that this game is close. The Terps are just playing too well against the weaker teams in conference and they will not be feeling the effects of playing their third game in five days. The RBC Center likely won't be filled to capacity, which will be a big advantage for the Terps, and they will win comfortably. Terps 76, North Carolina St. 61.