NCAA Basketball Maryland Terrapins

Maryland Terrapins On Upset Alert vs. North Carolina Central

On paper and in name, a college basketball game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Eagles of North Carolina Central wouldn’t figure to be one to pay attention to, let alone think about as an upset possibility. The North Carolina State Wolfpack probably thought the same thing on Nov. 20, when the Eagles flew into Raleigh and walked out with an 82-72, overtime victory.

Given that Maryland already has five losses on the season and one of those was at home to Boston University (7-6), and even a win over Florida Atlantic was closer than it needed to be (66-62), there can be no complacency in the Terps’ locker room Tuesday afternoon when Maryland and North Carolina Central meet at the Comcast Center.

In their most recent game, the Eagles fell to No. 11 Wichita State by only 11 points (77-66). In that game, North Carolina Central guard Jeremy Ingram went off for 37 points while hitting 12-of-21 shots from the field (including 7-for-13 from three-point range). Ingram also got himself to the free-throw line on a regular basis, and could have had a 40-point night if he had shot better there (6-for-12).

No one would favor Maryland in a game against the undefeated Shockers right now, and few have had any answer for Ingram, who enters Tuesday afternoon’s game averaging a robust 24.6 points per game. Ingram should be the total target for the Maryland defense. He has taken 153 of North Carolina Central’s 552 shots from the field (27.7 percent of all shots), and amazingly, his 114 free-throw attempts are nearly as many as all of his teammates combined (124).

And while the Eagles have played their share of cupcakes on their schedule (including wins over two Division II teams), Maryland can’t expect the name across the front of its own jerseys to be enough to throw Ingram off. Along with the 37 against Wichita State, Ingram scored 29 in the win over N.C. State and 27 in a season-opening loss to Cincinnati — a team that later handed Pittsburgh its first loss of the season.

Maryland features a balanced attack that has four players scoring in double figures, led by Dez Wells (15.7 PPG) and Seth Allen (15.0). One area where the Terps should have an advantage is in rebounding, where Maryland averages a full three rebounds more per game than the Eagles. Evan Smotrycz is the leader in that category for the Terps at 7.1 per game.

However, Maryland cannot afford to look past North Carolina Central. It will already be an odd game for the Terps, as the tip-off will be just after 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. It’s also the final non-conference game before Maryland starts its work in the ACC, with a home game vs. Georgia Tech on Jan. 4. With just an 8-5 record so far, a loss Tuesday would already put the Terps in a precarious position with regard to the NCAA Tournament.

Ed Morgans is an ACC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @writered21 and add him to your network on Google.