James Michael McAdoo and his North Carolina teammates will be challenged by Maryland's formidable front line. ROBERT WILLETT
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Welcome to gray, dreary College Park, where not too long from now North Carolina will play Maryland in the Comcast Center. Here’s hoping that no Maryland screams an F-bomb during the national anthem. Yes, that happened the last time UNC played here.
Here’s the story setting up the game. And some things to know …
North Carolina (21-8, 11-5 ACC) at Maryland (20-9, 8-8)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Comcast Center, College Park, Md.
Projected starting lineups
C Alex Len 12 ppg, 8.1 rpg
F James Padgett 5.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg
G Dez Wells 12 ppg, 4.5 rpg
G Nick Faust 8.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg
G Pe’Shon Howard 3.3 ppg, 3.9 apg
F James Michael McAdoo 14.8 ppg, 8 rpg
G P.J. Hairston 13.3 ppg, 4 rpg
G Reggie Bullock 14.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg
G Dexter Strickland 7.9 ppg, 4 apg
G Marcus Paige 7.7 ppg, 4.6 apg
Player to watch
Reggie Bullock, junior, North Carolina
Bullock proved his rebounding ability early in the season but it has become especially valuable in the recent weeks since coach Roy Williams made the much-discussed lineup change. Since, Bullock has at times been the Tar Heels’ best rebounder. He had 10 rebounds on Sunday against Florida State, and tied his season-high with 13 rebounds in the victory against N.C. State on Feb. 23. Bullock and the new-look Tar Heels will face their difficult rebounding challenge yet against Maryland, which is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation.
Observations: For the first time since Dec. 29, Maryland used the above starting lineup combination. The Terrapins are 10-1 in games those five players have started together … Maryland has been a good shooting team, and has shot 47 percent from the field this season. But the Terrapins are turnover-prone, and are the worst team in the ACC when it comes to taking care of possessions. … Maryland compensates for those turnover woes, though, through rebounding. The Terps lead the ACC in offensive rebounding percentage. … Fans are encouraged to show up to the Comcast Center wearing white for a “white out” game. Snow is in the forecast for today, too, which brings back memories of when UNC played at Maryland in 2010 during a snowstorm.
THREE KEYS FOR UNC
1. Match the intensity.
It’s desperation time for Maryland, which is running out of time to enhance its NCAA tournament resume. At 8-8 in the ACC, the Terrapins find themselves on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble (if a bubble can have sides, that is) and you can be sure that effort and intensity won’t be an issue for Maryland tonight. The Tar Heels have to match that.
2. Minimize the disadvantage down low.
Maryland will have a significant advantage in all aspects on the interior. Led by the 7-foot-1 center Alex Len, the Terrapins have a lot of size and a lot of skill in the post. Maryland is also one of the best rebounding teams in the country. This would have been a difficult matchup even before UNC began using a four-guard starting lineup Now it’s even more so. The Heels aren’t likely going to win the rebounding battle, and it’s going to be difficult for them to defend Len and others. The more they can avoid being completely overwhelmed, though, the better their chances.
3. Shoot well from the perimeter.
Given how good of a rebounding team Maryland is, shooting well will take on added importance for UNC. The Tar Heels have gone through hot and cold stretches this season, and it’s difficult to predict which shooting team will show up. That said, since going small UNC has proven that it can rely more on the outside shot and still be successful.
It might surprise you that Maryland holds the edge in three of the four: shooting, offensive rebounding and free throw rate. But turnovers have really hurt the Terrapins this season. They’ve been one of the most turnover-prone teams in the country.
See you at the Comcast Center.