North Carolina vs. Maryland Preview: Tar Heels Look to Continue Surge
The North Carolina Tar Heels have had a season full of inconsistency, but all of that seems to be a thing of the past considering their current three-game winning streak in the ACC. Tomorrow, they hope to add another game to that streak by defeating a mediocre Maryland Terrapins team. The 13-9 Terps may not be NCAA tournament worthy, but if the Tar Heels hope to be worthy, then they must come out of this game with a victory. They may be better than the Tar Heels by a half of a game in the conference standings, but they are not even close to as talented as them on the court, and the Tar Heels need to prove that.
The Terps are led in scoring by junior guard/forward Dez Wells with 15 points per game, and he has consistently put up double-digit scoring performances in all but three games this season. Behind Wells, sophomore forward Jake Layman is second on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game, and he may be one of the most prolific shooters on the roster.
It will be up to Leslie McDonald and J.P. Tokoto to lock both of the scoring threats down throughout the game, and not only because both have the height, but they also possess athleticism that can stun any opposing team on both ends of the court. Marcus Paige will have the responsibility of shutting down the Terps’ crafty point guard Seth Allen, and also getting his shooting game back up to par along with McDonald.
If Paige and McDonald can improve their shooting percentages just by a little bit, then winning is the only option for the Tar Heels. James Michael McAdoo has been stellar throughout the Tar Heels’ three-game winning streak, so the only advice I would give to him is to just keep playing with the same intensity that he has shown as of late.
When he plays with the momentum and confidence that has brought him success all season, he is an NBA caliber big man. Speaking of big men, Kennedy Meeks needs to continue to provide the Tar Heels with another threat in the frontcourt. The fact that he cannot get to the rim as effectively as McAdoo is concerning, but if he can use his head fakes and big body to power through the Terps’ forwards, then he should not have any problems throughout this game.
Both McAdoo and Meeks must not only capitalize on scoring opportunities, but they are the heart and soul of the Tar Heels’ rebounding attack, and they need to show that.
A good sign for the Tar Heels is that tomorrow’s game is at home, and the Terps did not win their first road game until their last matchup against a very poor Virginia Tech team. Not only do the Tar Heels have an abundance of momentum, but their fans do as well. The Dean Dome will be rocking tomorrow night, and it is up to the boys in blue and white to keep the crowd in the game for as long as possible.
The Tar Heels have not been defeated by the Terps in three straight seasons, and they are 5-0 against them during that span. They were not a threat then, and I really do not believe that they are a threat now.
Of course, the Tar Heels cannot consider this statistic because they must play every single game like it is against a ranked opponent in order to play with the correct amount of intensity. Every game from here on out is a must win for them if they plan on being relevant in March, and let’s just hope that this whole winning trend continues tomorrow night against Maryland.