Maryland Basketball: 5 Keys to Beating North Carolina
Whether the controversial "storming of the court" was warranted in your book or not, Maryland is riding high after an upset victory over the resurgent NC State Wolfpack.
After gliding through a weak out-of-conference slate, Maryland has been hit hard by ACC play. After losing to Florida State and Miami, and just edging out NC State, Maryland heads to Chapel Hill on Saturday to face off against a hungry North Carolina squad.
While North Carolina has certainly underachieved comparatively to their preseason ranking, Roy Williams' Tar Heels aren't lacking talent. Continuity is more the issue at hand.
Nevertheless, Maryland could use another solid resume-booster, which are hard to come by in a weaker ACC this season. Here are five keys to obtaining a win against the Heels.
Slow the Game Down
Whether you would like to label it "embarrassing" or "effective," Maryland has kept its games close by sustaining a low-scoring ballgame.
Despite scoring just a mere 47 points at Miami, Maryland only lost by seven. Its total of 51 points against NC State wasn't eye-popping either, but it resulted in a victory.
North Carolina lost to Virginia, a team that likes to win scoring in the 40s and 50s. Contrarily, the Tar Heels beat Florida State, in a game that was played to the upper 70s.
Between James Michael McAdoo, Reggie Bullock, Marcus Paige and PJ Hairston, North Carolina has supreme athletes that love to run in transition. Maryland will have a better chance at winning in an ugly, soft-tempo game.
Play with Physicality
"Soft" is a four letter word that shouldn't be thrown around lightly, because it truly offends players and coaches. But North Carolina is walking a thin tightrope, narrowly avoiding falling into that category.
The Tar Heels' interior players are the main reason for this concern. James Michael McAdoo has favored playing around the perimeter rather than absorbing contact in the low post. Freshman Brice Johnson is easily knocked around in the paint, standing at a frail 190-pound frame.
With big bodies in Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell and Alex Len, Maryland should be able to control the glass and out-muscle the Tar Heels, which would give it a severe advantage.
Primarily Use Seth Allen to Guard Marcus Paige
North Carolina freshman point guard Marcus Paige is one of the quicker point guards in the ACC. Maryland junior point guard Pe'Shon Howard is definitely one of the slowest. Paige is going to win a one-on-one battle every time, due to pure quickness.
While Maryland freshman Seth Allen has been better suited playing off the ball on the offensive end, it wouldn't be a bad idea for him to guard North Carolina's point guard. Allen's agility and quickness would give Paige a real test, rather than a sluggish Howard.
Gaining a physical advantage over the opponent is half the battle, and eliminating Paige's quickness would help Maryland gain that edge.
Put North Carolina on the Line
Plain and simple: North Carolina is not very good free throw shooting team. It ranks 299th in the nation in free throw percentage, at 63.8 percent. Just 14.7 percent of its points come from the line, which ranks 342nd nationally.
James Michael McAdoo and Dexter Strickland have shot the most free throws on the team. Neither shoot better than a 62 percent clip. Despite small sample sizes, J.P. Tokoto, Brice Johnson and Desmond Hubert each shoot less than 47 percent from the charity stripe.
Its never a great idea to give someone two free shots, but Maryland may be better off by making the Tar Heels earn their two points rather than letting them shoot from the floor.
The Tar Heels rank in the top-50 nationally in steals per game. They will turn you over if you aren't careful with the basketball in your hands, which is an area of concern for Maryland considering its youth.
Maryland plays seven freshmen or sophomores. North Carolina will feast on that inexperience by applying pressure in the backcourt. Maryland needs to fend off that pressure by not rushing and taking each possession one pass at a time.
North Carolina will burn any opponent in transition, so Maryland will definitely need to keep their turnover total in single-digits if it wants to walk in to Chapel Hill and knock off a very talented team.
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