NC State Wolfpack vs. Maryland Terrapins
7pm | College Park, MD | ESPN2
NC State is riding high after beating #1 Duke last weekend, but now they have to take on an underrated, very talented Maryland team on the road.
State is winners of 10 straight and has been playing great basketball as of late, however, history says that the Pack is due for a letdown. According to Joe Giglio of the News & Observer, after NC State has beaten UNC or Duke over the past 20 years, they are only 1-12 in the following game.
There is a bit of a difference between those years and this year. Over the past 20 years, nearly every time NC State has beaten UNC or Duke, it’s been a huge upset. Saturday’s win over the Blue Devils, while very big for NC State, was expected by the players. This team’s confidence is very high and there aren’t going to be many teams that they face that will have them doubting themselves.
Now let’s take a look at tonight’s opponent: Maryland.
NC STATE VS. MARYLAND
Of the many great rivalries NC State has in men’s basketball, the most intense outside of North Carolina’s boundaries is the one it shares with Maryland, which owns a slight 76-73 edge in the series between two of the league’s charter members. The only tighter series record for the Wolfpack against its ACC brethren is a 7-8 record all-time record against newcomer Boston College.
Last season, in the only meeting between the Pack and the Terps, State snapped a nine-game losing streak to Maryland, gaining a 79-74 win at home on Jan. 8, 2012.Prior to that victory, State had lost three times at home, four times on the road and twice in the ACC Tournament dating back to its last win: 62-58 in Raleigh on Feb. 5, 2006.
LAST TIME OUT VS. THE TERRAPINS
Mark Gottfried became only the second coach in school history to win his ACC opener, when the Wolfpack downed Maryland, 79-74, on Jan. 8, 2012.C.J. Leslie led the way to the Pack’s 79-74 win over Maryland last season, scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Scott Wood added 19 points, going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to set the NC State record for consecutive free throws made at 47 (that streak would eventually get to 66).
MARYLAND A TALENTED TEAM
Honestly, this is not the team Pack fans should be looking forward to facing after an emotionally taxing win over a top tier team. Maryland is a talented, physical bunch that is going to be one of the better teams in the ACC. The Terps are the 5th best rebounding team in the nation (43.1), 10 highest in assist per game (17) and 2oth nationally in FG% (48.3).
They rely a lot on their big man, Alex Len. The 7 footer is averaging 14 points and 8 boards per game. Len is very versatile and can really do it all. He is physical, can finish inside and even has soft touch on his jumper. He is going to be a matchup problem for Gottfried’s bunch.
NC State will also need to worry about a familiar face…Dez Wells. During the Sidney Lowe era, Dez Wells was recruited lightly by the Pack and was very interested in coming to State. At the time, there wasn’t really room for him and he ended up with Xavier where he started as a freshman. Some off the court issues led him to transfer Maryland and now Wells is Maryland’s second leading scorer (12 ppg). Dez is a physical specimen who loves to take the ball hard to the rim. He’s fearless and strong and can really get Maryland going when he’s on. This will be a tough assignment for whoever is on him (likely Purvis).
NC State will win if…
…they can sustain the focus and passion they had against Duke . They’ll need big efforts from Howell and Leslie, who will need to bring physicality and rebounding against Len. NC State will really need to match Maryland on the boards in this one. Brown will be matched up with Pe’Shon Howard, who is a big PG, however not as quick as Zo. If Lorenzo distributes like he did against Duke, then the Wolfpack should roll. The focus for Gott’s group should be interior defense and staying sharp and focused on offense.