Road wins are gold, especially in conference play. Heading into last weekend the Noles could barely see the bubble. One win at Clemson and now everyone has them right on the cut line. Tonight, it's a tougher test in the Maryland Terrapins, winners of 13 straight (one shy of their all time record, set sometime before the invention of the jump shot).
The Terrapins are a good news/bad news matchup for FSU. Stylistically, this is the type of team which FSU feasts on. They don't force turnovers. They compress their defense. Their tempo isn't horribly grinding. And their point guard has turnover issues. Also, their schedule has been a complete joke and they've lost to the only good team they played (Kentucky). Their best wins are Northwestern and Stony Brook, who are good but a clear step down from FSU.
The bad news is that they have a player who FSU cannot match up with. 7-1 sophomore Alex Len has gotten his game together this year, and FSU has no one to guard him. He's big, he's athletic, and FSU will have to overplay the help defense in order to contain him. This allows ball reversals for open 3s, and the Terps have 6-0 freshman Seth Allen (40% from the arc) and 6-3 senior Logan Aronhalt (57% from the arc) who both can go Ham and sink the Noles ship from deep. There's also Nick Faust who loves nothing more than jacking 3s, but he's a terrible shooter (28%) and he's also hobbled with an injury and might not play.
But the Terps are far more than just Len and a couple shooters. They have Dezmine Wells, a 6-5 freshman star last year at Xavier who got kicked out of school for something he was eventually found innocent of. He was later denied eligibility, but that decision was overturned. He's averaging 12.3 a game (to Len's 13.5). He's a slasher and can kill teams both on and off the ball. He's very physical for a 6-5 player. They also have a tremendously talented quartet of freshmen. And their freshmen are like FSU's talented group of freshmen. Sometimes they struggle. Sometimes they're awe inspiring. And most of the time they're somewhere in the middle.
The Terps pound the ball inside and crash the glass. They're 3rd nationally in OR%, while FSU is 268th in DR%. That's not good. Expect Maryland to extend so many possessions that you'll be pulling your hair out. But that's their style. That's why they score.
Defensively they're 2nd nationally in 2-pt FG%, and 3rd at keeping teams off the line. So this one is straight forward. FSU, which is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, needs to knock down deep shots. If the Noles are able to pull out a win, take a look at the 3-point column in the boxscore. That will be why.
The game tips at 8pm from the Comcast Center in Maryland and will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the ACC Network. The Terps are a 5.5 pt favorite in Vegas, and a six-point favorite according to Pomeroy.