It’s been an odd few days for the Duke basketball program.
After having Wednesday’s game at North Carolina postponed due to the massive snowstorm that is creating havoc for the entire east coast, the Blue Devils now face Maryland in the last time the two teams will face each other in a regular season conference game.
Tip-off from Cameron Indoor Stadium is scheduled at 6:00pm EST and the game will be televised on ESPN2. Duke enters as the No. 8 team in the country with a 19-5 record, while Maryland is unranked and 14-11.
To find out more about the Terrapins, we spoke with David Tucker at Testudo Times, the SB Nation site for Maryland.
Here is our interview with him.
Unless the teams meet again in the ACC Tournament, this could be the last time Duke & Maryland play for a while. How would you describe this series?
Well, Duke has definitely had the upper hand, owning a 106-60 mark all-time, but I’ve always felt like Maryland was Duke’s second rival. The series always seemed to bring out the best in each team. The 2000-2001 year, was just crazy, with the teams meeting four times (despite two of those being heart wrenching losses). The Washington Post just released an amazing documentary on the rivalry, focusing on that 2000-2002 timeframe when each school won a National Title back to back.
But part of what made the series great was the home and home component of the ACC schedule. With the expansion of the ACC and elimination of a lot of those historical home and home series, I think that was one of the driving factors that made Maryland’s decision to leave for the Big Ten easier.
What are your thoughts on Maryland’s departure to the Big Ten? Do you feel like the basketball program will take a step forward?
I was initially shocked by the move. Maryland is a founding member of the ACC and despite all of the joking we do about the Carolina bias of the conference, it was home for Maryland fans. But with the addition of Pitt & Syracuse and with Pitt becoming Maryland’s new conference “rival”, I think a lot of people were turned off by the ACC, which has made a lot of fans more receptive to joining the Big Ten.
In terms of basketball, I think Maryland will have no trouble competing with the big boys in the B1G. While the program is continuing to be rebuilt under Mark Turgeon and despite this season not living up to expectations, Maryland’s 2014 recruiting class is top notch. They won’t lose anyone of consequence from this year’s team heading into next season and moving forward, as long as they can continue their recent successes on the recruiting trail, they should be contenders in the Big Ten from the get go.
The Terps had great success against Duke last season, taking two of three. Are there things from last year that they can use to their advantage again this Saturday?
One of the weapons that allowed Maryland to be so successful against Duke last season was Alex Len’s defense. While he was also good offensively and in terms of rebounding, he did a great job of shutting down Duke in the paint, especially against Mason Plumlee.
Without Len, Maryland hasn’t really had a rim defender this season and has struggled with their help defense as well. Losing Len really made a lot of fans understand just how much he was doing on the defensive end, a lot of which won’t show up in a box score.
The other area where Maryland did really well against Duke in their two wins last season was rebounding. In both of their wins, Maryland really controlled their glass, especially when the teams met in College Park, where the Terps had a +21 rebounding advantage. Despite losing Len, Maryland has still been a good rebounding team this season, especially on the offensive glass, where they rank 66th in offensive rebounding percentage, according to KemPom. If they can control the paint and limit Duke’s second chance points, that could be an area they try to capitalize on Saturday.
Realistically, if Maryland has any shot of winning, they’re going to have to hit their tree point shots and Dez Wells and Seth Allen are going to have to have big games for the Terps.
Who on the Maryland roster would you say has the most potential to step up in Cameron Indoor Stadium and have a big game?
Probably Seth Allen or Dez Wells. Both have the potential to score 30+ on any given night. Allen, who missed the start of the season due to a foot injury, is finally back at full strength and has averaged 18.5 points over his last four games, including 32 against Florida State on February 8th.
In looking at the statistics, it seems like the Terrapins have struggled to score consistently this season. What can they do to keep up with Duke’s firepower?
A lot of Maryland’s scoring problems originated at the start of the season, when they were without Seth Allen running the point. Their offense has been somewhat of a work in progress all season, but they’re finally starting to show some consistency. They have a tendency to rely too much on three pointers and when those don’t fall, they will fall into stretches where they don’t score for several minutes. They’ll need to convert on their three point attempts, which will be challenging given Duke’s excellent three point defense, and allow Seth Allen and Dez Wells to get into the paint to score. But Maryland is also going to need to step up their three point defense, which has plagued them all season. If they’re unable to do that, they’re going to fall behind quickly and not be able to catch up.
Jabari Parker has played extremely well over the past two weeks, but he’s also received tons of help from his teammates. Which other Blue Devil concerns you the most?
Rasheed Sulaimon immediately jumps out as the player who scares me the most for Maryland, specifically his 49.1% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Maryland’s three point defense has been less than stellar at times this season and I could easily see him making an obscene number of three pointers on Saturday.
Rodney Hood also jumps out as someone Maryland fans should be afraid of, since he’s such an efficient shooter and another terrific three point threat. And because it seems to happen every game, I could see someone like Andre Dawkins or Quinn Cook coming off the bench and just going bonkers as well from long range.
What’s your prediction for the game?
Maryland fans want nothing more than to win their final game at Cameron Indoor, but so much would have to go perfectly for Maryland and utterly wrong for Duke in order for that to happen. Duke is just a terrible match up for Maryland this season and I don’t think this game will be particularly close, with the Blue Devils winning 78-60.
Thanks to Dave for taking the time to speak with us. You can check out more of his work at Testudo Times and also follow him on Twitter at @TestudoDave. Follow Testudo Times on Twitter at @TestudoTimes. You can also read our interview with them from the Duke perspective.