Maryland Basketball: 5 Keys to Earning a Shocking Upset over Duke
After being walloped by Miami, top-ranked Duke (16-2, 3-2) is still without a win on the road. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, they're heading home Saturday for a matchup against pseudo-rival Maryland (15-4, 3-3).
The Terrapins bounced back from their loss against North Carolina with a convincing victory over Boston College. Now, they face a far bigger challenge.
Of course, Duke star Ryan Kelly is still sidelined with a foot injury. Kelly has missed both of Duke's losses.
Here are five keys to Maryland bypassing the Cameron Crazies and earning a shocking upset over the Duke Blue Devils.
Keep Alex Len out of Foul Trouble
Arguably one of the most anticipated one-on-one matchups this season, regardless of conference, is Mason Plumlee versus Alex Len.
Len, a towering 7'1'' behemoth with lanky arms and commendable agility, may be one of the few players in America who is capable of shutting down Plumlee. Duke's superstar is averaging well over double figures in both points and rebounds.
The next tallest players on Maryland's roster are both 6'8''—Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman. Cleare isn't close to being mobile enough to hang with the 6'11'' Plumlee, while Layman is better at guarding the perimeter than the post.
If Len is confined to the bench with foul trouble, Plumlee is going to have a field day offensively.
Dominate the Glass
Duke doesn't have too many flaws, but the Blue Devils haven't been a proficient offensive rebounding squad this year. Plus, one of Duke's top offensive rebounders, Ryan Kelly, will not play.
Duke averages just over 10 offensive boards per night, which ranks 246th in the country. This plays perfectly to Maryland's advantage since the Terrapins are ranked first in the nation in defensive rebounding, grabbing 43 per game.
If Maryland can keep Duke from getting second-chance points, the Terps will have a much better chance of nabbing an upset.
Step out on All 3-Point Shooters
Despite long-range threat Ryan Kelly not playing, Duke is still one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. The Blue Devils get over 42 percent of their points from beyond the arc.
Duke is heavily reliant on the long ball. Maryland hasn't been spectacular defending the three this year, so some adjustments will be needed for this game. Seth Curry leads the charge with 42 trifectas, while Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon each have nailed 24.
Duke is a very streaky team from outside, and those streaks can effectively close out a ball game long before the final buzzer sounds. Maryland's perimeter defends must step out on all three-point attempts.
Use Some Bigger Lineups
Duke's loss to Miami was an example of how the Blue Devils can easily be outmatched in the size department. The Hurricanes used their three healthy big men very effectively.
The length of Kenny Kadji and Tonye Jekiri intimidated Duke's front line, while Julian Gamble outmuscled Mason Plumlee on numerous occasions. Mark Turgeon should take some notes from this strategy.
Maryland should always have three players between Alex Len, James Padgett, Shaquille Cleare, Jake Layman, Dez Wells and Charles Mitchell on the court for the majority of the game. Pe'Shon Howard and Logan Aronhalt should lose some minutes for this game.
Don't Let Other Games Affect This Game
There's no question that Duke is going to be starving for a win at home after dropping two straight road games, so Maryland will need to set the tone early and show the Blue Devils that this game is no gimme.
If Duke obtains some momentum early, the raucous Cameron Crazies will allow their team to breeze through the remainder of the game. This matchup will be determined in the first 10 minutes.
No one ever wants to play a Mike Krzyzewski-coached team following a loss, but Maryland needs to find a way to equalize that motivation from the get-go. Playing with some increased physicality in the early minutes would set a strong tone.