Maryland Basketball Has First Real Test Thursday vs. Pitt
The Maryland Terrapins have worked their way through the first week of the season and have managed to stay undefeated. Two of these game have been lopsided victories over opponents that really stood no chance.
The other victory was a memorable one-point win over College of Charleston when Pe'Shon Howard hit a pull-up with four seconds left. Some people have CofC making the tournament this year, but they are no way at the level of talent the Terps will play this weekend in New York.
Gary Williams will have his first chance to see how good the Terps really are when on Thursday they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers in Madison Square Garden.
The Panthers are ranked No. 4 in the AP poll right now after also starting off the season 3-0. The Panthers are similar to Maryland in that they have won two games with ease, and suffered a bit of a scare in one game. The Panthers opened up the season against the University of Rhode Island and spent a good amount of time losing in the game. They ended up winning by eight, but it showed that Pitt is beatable.
For the Terps to win this game they are going to have to play aggressive defense and not turn the ball over. The Maryland players believe they are all in the best shape of their lives after a gruesome offseason, and they will need all the energy they can get if they want to hang around with the Panthers. The Terps have shown bright spots on defense, and will need to get out and in the face of the Pitt guards.
Pitt guards Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs are both averaging 19.3 points per game so far this season, with Wanamaker more on the drive and Gibbs more around the arc. Maryland will struggle to stop either one of these upperclassmen guards, and to stop both may just be too much.
The other key to Maryland winning is that they must be able to break the press. I have been overly critical of how poorly the Terps are against the press so far this year, but it really is justified.Gary Williams has not had much time to really teach the team yet, but with three days between their game against Maine and the game against Pitt you know they have worked on it plenty.
If the Terps are able to slow down the Pitt guards and break any sort of press Pitt may run, then they may be able to win this game, although it is still unlikely. Jordan Williams will need to play out of his mind down low, and Sean Mosley will have to find a way to put some points on the board if the Terps are to stick with this top five team.
My Prediction is that the Terps don't embarrass themselves too much, but Pitt is just too good this year for an extremely young Maryland team.
Pittsburgh 78 Maryland 62
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