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ACC Basketball Preview: Maryland vs. Pitt

Monday, January 6, 2014 9:10am

ACC hoops on a Monday?!?! WHAT IN THE WHAT? And during the National Title Game (kind of)? REALLY?

Well, whatever. No fault to the scheduling powers that be, considering, why would they have thought an ACC football team would be playing for the national title anyway?

I digress.

ACC hoops are weird, right? Cant figure them out, right? UNC loses at Wake. Syracuse struggles with Miami. A Pitt team that hadnt played anyone crushes N.C. State on the road, and a Maryland team that had struggled with everyone handles Georgia Tech at home.

Oh, and Duke loses at Notre Dame. 

Cant figure the league out? Sure you can! THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN IS PROBABLY WHAT WILL HAPPEN! There. Fixed it.

MONDAY

MARYLAND (10-5, 2-0 ACC) AT PITT (13-1, 1-0 ACC)

Time: 7:00 p.m.

TV: ESPN2/WatchESPN

THE SKINNY

Pitt needs to own the boards. In spite of all it did against the Wolfpack, it didnt do that. Now, did it matter? Nope. But it has been something Pitts been doing all season, rebounding nearly 40% of its own missed shots and letting opponents get just 27.6% of theirs. Maryland thrives on getting second looks, retrieving 37.3% of its misses (35th nationally). And Marylands been pretty good on the defensive glass as well, allowing opponents just a 28% offensive rebounding percentage. N.C. State likes to get second looks, but Maryland has to get them. Pitt cant let that happen.

Maryland needs to avoid the derp. Pitt will make you pay for this, and then some. Just ask N.C. State, who turned the ball over 16 times against Pitt. Seemingly any time N.C. State made a mistake, Pitt pounced on it. (Like a Panther. Get it????) And thats just what Pitt under Jamie Dixon does. Yes, theyre physically tough and will elbow you in the face to keep you from getting a rebound. (Not really, but it sounds good. And who knows, they might?) Theyre going to be mentally tougher than you, too. And Marylands 19% turnover percentage shows the Terps can get plenty derptastic at all the wrong times. Cant. Happen.

NAMES TO KNOW

Talib Zanna. Hes one of the best rebounders in the ACC, and he can score when he needs to. With all the (deserved) hoopla surrounding Lamar Patterson, Zanna tends to get lost in the shuffle. But hes hit double figures in eight of the last nine games and averaging 7.7 rebounds in that span. After getting in foul trouble against Cincinnati, he now has a total of five fouls in the last three games. But banging down low with Marylands big boys will be a challenge.

Roddy Peters. The freshman had his first turnover-free game of the season against Georgia Tech, and managed five assists! Thats seriously quite an accomplishment - he has one of the best assist rates in the country, but his turnover rate has been quite high. His improvement in recent games, though, has helped the Terps weather the remainder of Seth Allens absence by letting Dez Wells go back to his normal spot off the ball. Peters needs to stay calm and not try to do too much if he wants to keep helping the team.

STATS ARE FOR LOSERS

With the return of Seth Allen to the lineup, four Maryland players are now shooting 37% or better from three (just two others who have attempted threes shoot a worse percentage - Nick Faust at 31.3% and Varum Ram at 33.3%). N.C. States 41.2% OR% was the second-highest by a Pitt opponent this season, and Pitt still won handily. Pitt held N.C. State to its worst offensive efficiency rating of the season. Maryland had by far its lowest OR% of the season against Georgia Tech (14.7%) and still won by double digits.

NARRATIVES

Maryland Win: A win, AND beating one of those new members? PERFECT!

Maryland Loss: Oh, you thought your season was getting back on track with a nice win, Maryland? Heh.

Pittsburgh Win: Pitt goes to 14-1, still not ranked, national response:

Pittsburgh Loss: YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ONE OF THE ELITE ONES, PITT!!!!

PREDICTION

Pittsburgh, 71-59. Im not following my own rule here. I think Pitt wins handily. So Maryland will probably win. Oh well - Im willing ot take that chance. I also thought Maryland would be good this year, so……

Overall: 12-7

ACC: 4-3