On Friday November 9th, the Maryland Terrapins and the Kentucky Wildcats will face off in what will surely be an exciting and intriguing match up to open up the college basketball season. As intriguing as the match-up was before today, recent news has made the match up much more interesting.
On Wednesday, shocking news broke out that Maryland swing-man Dezmine Wells has been cleared to play by the NCAA.
Wells, who transferred from Xavier before the start of the season, was expected by most analysts to have to miss this season. The fact the he is cleared to play gives a lot of hope to a Maryland organization that is in need of a spark.
In terms of long-term effects, Wells will help Maryland against the athletic wings of the ACC and will add his immense offensive and defensive arsenal in order to make numerous plays on both sides of the ball.
Thinking short term, Maryland faces the national championship Kentucky Wildcats on Friday. The addition of Wells only improves the Terps chances of pulling of the upset.
Kentucky is going to throw a lot of size and athleticism at the Terps. Their highly recruited freshmen Nerlenes Noel, Archie Goodwin, and Alex Poythress are bound to create match-up problems for opposing teams. Before Wells was ruled eligible, Maryland did not have an experienced wing player that could efficiently match up with the athleticism and size of Poythress.
At 6’7 and 220 pounds, Poythress’ size was a big concern for Maryland. Now that Dez is able to suit up, they have an answer for him. While Wells has not proved to be a shutdown defender, his athleticism and size combined with the right coaching can create a monster on the defensive size of the ball.
While the Kentucky-Maryland game creates many intriguing match-ups across the board, how Wells will match up with the lengthy wings of Kentucky one of the more important aspects of the game.
One goal for the Terps should be to get the young Wildcats in foul trouble. I imagine that Maryland’s 7’2 sophomore big-man Alex Len will try to test Noel early, and try and draw some early fouls in the post. Wells has to be aggressive on offense and try to drive on Noel and the young wings guarding him, and try and draw contact and get to the foul line. Maryland has many young athletic players in addition to Wells, such as Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman, who can also use their size, athleticism, and skill to contribute.
While many people were initially counting Maryland out for this huge night at the Barclays Center, Dez Wells gives Maryland an A+ athlete that can defend and compete with the highest level of talent in the country.
As the core of Maryland’s already deep young core just got deeper, the Terps are going to be confident going against Coach Cal’s squad.
Follow Daniel on Twitter