For the final time in the ACC, FSU plays host to Maryland. The Terps took the money and ran, and beginning next year will be facing conference rivals Rutgers, Nebraska, and Northwestern in can't miss games. But for now they're still in the ACC, a conference they helped charter in 1953.
The Terps (10-6, 2-1) have struggled in Mark Turgeon's third year at the helm. They're 2-4 against Pomeroy's top 100, and 4-2 against teams rated 101-200. Their best wins are neutral court games vs Northern Iowa and Providence. Part of the problem is that Mark Turgeon hasn't back-stopped the point guard position very well. Sophomore Seth Allen, the presumed starter, missed the first 12 games with injury and is just now working his way into shape. In his absence they've had freshman Roddy Peters who has played like a freshman, and junior Dez Wells, who has played like a small forward asked to play point. As a result they're 264th in steals allowed and have trouble getting into sets.
When they do get the ball moving they spread the love around and have four double digit scorers (five if you count Allen, who has played four games). Dez Wells leads the way at 14.4 per game, but a lot of it is just volume. At 6-5, 215 he's a load, and he likes to do his work near the rim. The player I'm much more concerned about is 6-8 junior Evan Smotrycz, a transfer from Michigan. Smotrycz takes half his shots from beyond the arc, and he's made 39%. Twice this year he's made four in a game. He's complemented by another 6-8 shooter in Jake Layman (13.0 per game) who is constantly looking for the three. The size of their shooters will present an interesting puzzle for coach Hamilton to solve.
Defensively, they match up well with what FSU wants to do. FSU lives on the offensive glass and Maryland is the 30th best defensive rebounding team in the nation. Maryland is also 53rd in 2pt% defense, which is important as only 11 of 351 Division I teams score more by 2-pointers than do the Noles.
The good news is that this is the first ACC opponent who won't slow the game down to a crawl. FSU's offense is the 2nd most uptempo in the ACC, and Maryland's is 4th, so the game should have plenty of action that the Virginia and Clemson games lacked. Maryland will pack the interior and try to force FSU to become a jump shooting team. The Noles need to pound the interior early and force Maryland to double. That should create some open 3s for the Noles and FSU just needs to knock them down. When these two teams matched up in Tallahassee last year, Okaro White did his best Al Thornton impression with 20 points, 9 boards, and 6 blocks.
The game tips at 8pm from the Tuck and will be broadcast on ESPNU. The Noles are a 9 pt favorite by Pomeroy, but Vegas is discounting the idea of a home court advantage and has FSU -6.5.
For some pregame reading, check out Matt's Q&A with Testudo Times.