The semifinals are beginning to take shape at the 2013 National Invitation Tournament, with Maryland surviving a lackluster outing to defeat Alabama. The Terrapins will now move on to New York, where they'll play either Virginia or Iowa.
This is yet another sign of resilience from a team that has consistently displayed inconsistency.
Maryland outlasted Alabama by a score of 58-57. They shot 50.0 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from beyond the arc, thus establishing what would appear to be a great offensive effort.
With that being said, the Terrapins also shot 50.0 percent from the free throw line and committed 17 turnovers.
This is the third consecutive game in which Maryland has struggled taking care of the ball. They're averaging 15.0 turnovers during the NIT and 14.8 for the season. They rank 336th in turnovers committed thus far in 2012-13.
Even still, the Terrapins have found a way to win. They pair elite rebounding with quality defense, thus leading to their current status in the NIT semifinals.
The question is, how far can they go with these type of performances?
The Alex Len Factor
During Maryland's win over Alabama, Alex Len was sensational. He finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and five blocks.
This comes after two consecutive outings in which Len failed to top 10 points or five rebounds.
This has been the story with Len, as his world class talent has been on display on a far too inconsistent basis. Whether Maryland draws Virginia or Iowa, that will not be acceptable. Len needs to dominate as his ability suggests he can.
During Maryland's past nine losses, Len is averaging 9.6 points per game. This is why the Terrapins need Len to step up, as his production is often the life of their putrid offense.
Maryland's win over Alabama was evidence of that truth.
Can They Keep Shooting?
For the season, Maryland is shooting 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. Thus far in the NIT, they're shooting 38.3 percent from distance.
The question is, can they keep on shooting at such a high clip?
Chances are, the Terrapins will cool down at some point during this tournament. They've been hot against Niagara and Alabama, but they made just 3-of-12 three-pointers against Denver.
If they shoot that poorly against Iowa or Virginia, Maryland will be on the outside looking in come the NIT Finals.
This is not to sell Maryland's efforts short, as the talent is in place for them to win it all. Dezmine Wells is a legitimate star in the ACC, Maryland rebounds as well as any team and Len's dynamic abilities have already been acknowledged.
Unless they cut down on turnovers and become a more consistent offensive team, however, the Terrapins will not reach the Finals.
The pressure is on.
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