Previewing Maryland

In what will likely be their toughest game thus far this season, the Tar Heels face Maryland on Saturday. Tip-off at the Smith Center is set for noon and will be televised by ESPN. <br><br><b> <center>(<a target=new href=>Live Stats</a> ... <a href=>In-Game Chat</a>)</b></center>

North Carolina (13-1) vs. Maryland (9-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
Noon, ESPN (HD)

Roy Williams on Maryland -- "I thought [John Gilchrist] was a very good and confident player last year, but that run they had in the ACC Tournament has made him even more confident and his play this year has continued to show that. ... I think John is playing sensational basketball. ... He's the leader and he's the one that you have to start talking about."

"They've got like eight of their top nine guys back from last year and made that great run at the end of the year, so in some ways they've been partially overlooked and it's hard to understand that if you can win the ACC Tournament and have eight of your top nine coming back."

"They are a little bit of a different team [this year] and playing at a little faster pace ... [Jamar Smith] hurt us badly up there last year, but with Ekene [Ibekwe], [Travis] Garrison and [James] Gist coming off the bench they still have some inside players that everybody in America would like to have."


Last Year Vs. UNC: On Jan. 14, 2004, UNC led Maryland by as many as ten points in the first half, but defensive problems (especially on Jamar Smith, who posted 22 points) and poor shooting in the second half (32%) did in the Heels, 90-84 in College Park. In the rematch a month later in Chapel Hill, Carolina roared to a 55-35 halftime lead and held off the Terps' second-half rally for a 97-86 win. UNC had a whopping 50 free throw attempts in total, shooting 74% from the line.

Season To Date: The Terps haven't faced too tough a schedule to date, and have lost the games against their two strongest opponents. Their best wins of the year thus far are against Memphis and an overtime squeaker against Florida State. The losses have been at Wisconsin (69-64) and against George Washington (101-92). The only consistent problem in both defeats was turnovers, committing 18 in both).

PG Battle: The ACC probably hasn't seen such elite point guard talent in the conference since 1989-91, and certainly has the best set of four points in the nation this year . Therefore, the pressure is on Raymond Felton to come out on top of these matchups -- the first of which is Saturday against Maryland's John Gilchrist. A junior, Gilchrist is filling up the stat sheet thus far this season, averaging 17.0 points and 6.3 assists. He's got a strong all-around game, able to break down a defender and attack the basket on offense, while also being accurate from long range (42% 3pt). On the defensive end, he's grabbing 2.4 steals per game, and is also a rebounding force with 5.7 rebounds.

Frontcourt Power: The Terps sport a lineup that from point to center excels on the boards and is averaging an impressive 15.9 offensive rebounds per game. The trio of starters Travis Garrison and Ekene Ibekwe, and freshman reserve James Gist, combine for 19.6 boards (7.6 off.) and 4.8 blocks per game -- and that doesn't even count 7-1 backup center Will Bowers, who's averaging about 10 minutes of playing time. With the size to match UNC up front, and the team speed and strong point guard play to match them on the break, the Terps present a tough challenge for the Tar Heels.

Projected Starters:
11 John Gilchrist (6-3, 201, G, Jr.) – 17.0 ppg, 6.3 apg
13 Chris McCray (6-5, 190, G, Jr.) – 13.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg
22 Nik Caner-Medley (6-8, 240, F, Jr.) - 14.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg
 4 Travis Garrison (6-8, 243, F, Jr.) – 10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg
25 Ekene Ibekwe (6-9, 220, F, So.) - 9.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg

Key Reserves:
 5 D.J. Strawberry (6-5, 201, G, So.) – 8.0 ppg
15 James Gist (6-8, 215, F, Fr.) – 7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg
23 Mike Jones (6-5, 209, G, So.) – 4.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
31 Will Bowers (7-1, 253, C, So.) – 1.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg

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Gilchrist ... McCray

Caner-Medley ... Ibekwe

Garrison ... Williams

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