Now it's time to play for all the marbles. The Florida State Seminoles head into College Park, Maryland to take on the Terrapins. From here on out, it's all ACC all the time and it isn't going to be easy. As mentioned in the ACC Preview, the conference is stronger than many expected it to be. Maryland's 9-4 record is deceiving. This is a big test for a young Seminoles team. Can they move to 2-0 in the ACC with two early conference road wins?
Game Time: 5:30 pm EST
Opponent's Preview: Testudo Times (SBNation Site: Ben does outstanding work over there, take a minute to check out his site)
Tonight, Florida State faces another early road test in conference play against the Maryland Terrapins. Given recent events in conference play, this is a must win game for the Seminoles. Last year, the Seminoles went 4-4 on the road in the ACC with wins over Virginia, NC State, Clemson and Virginia Tech. This year, the Seminoles are 1-0 on the road with a significant overtime win against Georgia Tech. Getting comfortable playing on the road will be key to the Seminoles' success this year. The Seminoles play Duke and UNC once this year, with both games on the road.
Tonight, the Seminoles take on a 9-4 Maryland Terrapins team that entered the season with a significant amount of hype. Some media outlets predicted the Terrapins to return to the top 25 this year, returning to Gary William's expected level of excellence. Maryland is currently ranked 41st in the Pomeroy rankings and is not ranked in the major national polls. Do not be fooled by their record or their ranking. Three of Maryland's four losses were to good teams: Cincinnati, Wisconsin and Villanova. The major blemish on their record is a home loss to William and Mary, keep in mind that William and Mary also took down Wake Forest.
Earlier in the week, we had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming match up with Ben from Testudo Times, SBNation's Maryland Blog. In case you missed it, here are his answers to our questions:
1. Heading in to tonight's game, the casual observer might look at Maryland's 9-4 record and wonder what is going on. Why is Maryland's record not reflective of what this team is really like?
There's a few things to be confident about for Maryland fans when looking at the record. Every team Maryland has lost to has beaten a team that many or most people would consider better than Maryland (Cincy beat UCONN, Wisconsin beat Duke, Villanova is Villanova, and William & Mary beat Wake). The W&M loss might come off bad on paper, but they've handled some good teams (they beat Wake at Wake). There are no real bad losses yet, even though there aren't many impressive wins. Greivis Vasquez's slow start was also a big negative early on that doesn't exist any more.
That said, that casual observer might not be all that wrong. Don’t misunderstand, Maryland had some problems that they don't have now - for instance, Vasquez has recovered from that glacial start - but this isn't the team a lot of people thought they would be.
2. Maryland received a lot of hype during the off season with the return of Vasquez and great recruiting. In what ways has the team lived up to the hype, exceeded the hype and fallen short of the hype?
Nice segue, I guess. There aren't a lot of ways Maryland has exceeded the hype, although two players do heavily stand out in my mind - Sean Mosley and Jordan Williams. Mosley is a quiet guy that isn't a particularly good shooter nor slasher, but he makes the hustle plays, is great defensively, and just knows how to score. You won't ever really think about him or notice him during the game, but then you'll look up and he'll have 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. He's been much better than I expected, and I expected a fringe 3rd team all-ACC player.
Williams doesn't get as much publicity as fellow ACC big man Derrick Favors, but he's a good player in his own right. He's not in ACC shape, so his minutes top out at about 20 a game, but he's Maryland's best big man since Lonny Baxter in 2002. By his senior year, he'll be a force. He actually got a double-double against Antonio Pena and Villanova his 7th game ever, and that doesn't happen by accident.
Past that, I can't really see anywhere they've exceed or even really lived up to the hype. There's no bench production to speak of, and Vasquez's choppy start means that his recent blazing performance only brings him up to par at best. A few people were saying Maryland was a darkhorse contender for the ACC crown, and while that's not technically impossible, it's certainly unlikely.
3. Duke appears to be the best team in the ACC right now. What is your impression of the rest of the ACC? Where do you expect Maryland to finish the year?
This is the second time I've said this in a week, but the ACC seems very weak this year, or at least middle-heavy. Duke is better than usual, but my confidence in their abilities come spring disappeared long ago. Past that, UNC is having a down year and there's no other really good team in the conference. The good news is that there are no bad teams in the conference, either - Virginia is arguably the worst, and they just beat a ranked team themselves.
Maryland's entirely a crapshoot, though so too is most of the ACC below Duke. They haven't been impressive in their big games, but they've had a small sample size. Gary Williams' teams traditionally improve as the season goes along, so I'm going optimistic and saying Maryland will be 6th in the ACC with a late run. Whether that gets them into the NCAA tournament or not is tough to tell.
4. Aside from Vasquez, who should Florida State fans be worried about? As we have mentioned his name a lot, what is your assessment of Vasquez?
We already discussed Williams and Mosley above, and you definitely should be worried about those two. As for another name, I could go a boring route and suggest the streaky yet important Landon Milbourne or the calm deep threat Eric Hayes, but I'm not a blogger to be boring. Instead, I'll say keep your eye on Adrian Bowie.
Bowie is only 6-2 (generously) but he's lightning quick and Maryland's second best player defensively. I'm of the opinion that Maryland should press FSU, and that's where Bowie would come in. He and Mosley have the best court awareness and ball sense on the team, and are often steal machines. They'll hang out at mid-court and pick off ill-aimed passes to produce easy points, which Maryland heavily relies on.
He's the closest thing Maryland has to a sparkplug offensively (not including the horribly inconsistent Cliff Tucker, who has the ability to make 5 three pointers in a row or 5 turnovers in a row) and, if his matchup doesn't cut off the left side heavily, he can get to the basket fairly easily. He's played poorly since tweaking an ankle last season, but he'll be a big part of Maryland's success down the road and was very good the first half of last year. Recently, he's been improving his play.
As for Vasquez, giving him a true assessment is a pretty difficult task. He's so enigmatic that labeling him is nigh-impossible. Nonetheless, I have trouble thinking of a more passionate and, occasionally, dominant college guard than Vasquez not named John Wall. Vasquez will turn in the occasional stinker and has tons of holes in his game, but if you catch him on a good day, there's no stopping him. His court awareness is highly underrated and his passing ability is second to none. When he's on, his shot will fall, he'll get to the rim (and almost always finish), and he'll score at will on runners off picks from the elbow.
Yes, he's inconsistent, and yes, those dominant performances aren't the norm, but he can churn them out far more regularly than most. When he's off, the key is for him not to take Maryland out of the game with him - he's learning to defer and let others make things happen when he can't, and that will serve him and the Terps well toward the end of the season.
At the time of writing this preview, Maryland was ranked 41st in the Pomeroy rankings with the 55th and 47th ranked offensive and defensive efficiencies respectively. This is a balanced team that is led by three seniors: Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes. They like to play at a very high pace and are very efficient. The Terps average 72.9 possessions per game, which ranks 32nd in the country. The Seminoles average 69.3 possessions per game which has been elevated in the last three games. 68 possessions per game is the national average. The interesting point about Maryland's pace is that they rarely turn the ball over, having a TO% of only 16.5%. Remember, turnovers add to pace, more turnovers results in a higher pace. Maryland also shoots the ball very well with an eFG% of 53.0%, shooting 52.6% from the inside the arc and 36.1% from beyond the arc. Maryland doesn't take may three point shots, scoring 60% of their total points by the way of two point shots. This bodes well for the Seminoles as they absolutely shut down the paint and any shot inside the arc, allowing opponents to shoot only 36.6% from inside the arc and allowing opponents to score only 47.5% of their points from two point shots.
However, Maryland does just as well on defense. They only allow their opponents to shot 38.6% from the floor and only score 45.3% of their points inside the arc. Where Maryland has difficulty on on the defensive glass, allowing their opponents to rebound 35% of their possible offensive rebounds, this ranks 246th in the nation.
Here is the likely lineup for Maryland:
F #1 Landon Milbourne 6'7 207lbs Senior
F #20 Jordan Williams 6'9 245lbs Freshman
F #5 Eric Hayes 6'4 184lbs Senior
G # 14 Sean Mosley 6'4 210lbs Sophomore
G #21 Greivis Vasquez 6'6 190lbs Senior
Greivis Vasquez is their go to guy and will likely be one of the better players in the ACC this year. He got off to a slow start but has been putting up big numbers of later. He currently has an ORating of 109.7 and is averaging 17.3 points per game. Three other Maryland players are averaging in double digits: Hayes, Milbourne and Mosley. Maryland's roster is full of hybrid 2-3-4 players. However, they do not use their bench as much as the Seminoles do. Vasquez has played 78.8% of minutes available, Milbourne 75, Mosley 69 and Hayes 76. In fact, Maryland's bench has only accounted for 27% of their possible minutes. Florida State's bench accounts for 38% of minutes available.
Greivis Vasquez is an outstanding player and one would think that Maryland's success is dependent on Vasquez. We decided to look at Vasquez's production as compared to Maryland's success. We tried to see if there was a correlation between the percentage of points Vasquez scores and whether or not Maryland wins, meaning if Vasquez takes over a game does Maryland win? Based on a very limited sample set, the results are mixed, especially because he had very limited production in the early going. However, it seems that the higher percentage of points that Vasquez scores, the worse Maryland does. When Vasquez accounts for more than 30% of Maryland's points, the Terrapins are 1-2. When he scores 25% or more than their points they are 3-3. When he scores more than 20% of their points, the are 5-3. This reflects some of the comments mentioned at Testudo Times. If Vasquez gets tunnel vision and believes he has to win the game, it's likely that the Terrapins will have a tough night.
With the exception of Wisconsin and Cincinnati, Maryland has only seen one other team in the top 100 for defensive efficiency. They have lost every game against a team that has a defensive efficiency in the top 100. Florida State ranks fourth in the country. It will be interesting to see what Maryland tries to do against Florida State's defense. They are not a three point shooting team.
The Seminoles will go with Kitchen, Dulkys, Singleton, Reid and Alabi to start tonight's game. This line up appears to be working well, especially since Dulkys is shooting well and Kitchen has a new focus to his game. I haven't been able to watch any Maryland game tape this year, so it is hard to say what offensive or defensive sets Maryland will run against the Noles. But, if Maryland starts pressing early and often, look for the Noles to settle into the Dulkys, Kitchen, Snaer lineup.
Keys to the Game:
1. Turnovers. Against Texas A&M-CC, FSU had a TO% of 15%. Repeat that performance. Maryland isn't going to turn the ball over and give you easy baskets. Don't allow them any easy baskets.
2. Wear the Terrapins down. Florida State's bench will be one of the keys to their success in the ACC this year. Keep fresh legs on the court and get the Terps into foul trouble. Force the Terrapins into a one dimensional team: Vasquez.
3. Rebound. Rebound. Rebound. Take advantage of their poor defensive rebounding. Get the put backs. Be efficient.
4. Stay calm. This will likely be a big crowd and it's going to be loud. Beating Florida State would be a great way for Maryland to start their ACC season.
Prediction: Florida State 68 Maryland 63
Game Time: 5:30pm EST
Online Stream: Here