If anyone is expecting the previous game with Maryland to predict Wednesday's, we have some advice for you: forget it.Â Duke still has the talent advantage, but Maryland may have most of the others.
They have the immediate advantage of playing at home, they'll have an emotional high left from the epic UNC victory, they have their traditional hatred of blue things from the Triangle, and you know they'd like to pay Duke back for that 41 point butt-whipping in Cameron.
Duke has to guard against a big letdown after the hugely emotional triumph over Wake Forest.Â And while the five-forward lineup, as Bob Knight called it, was effective, as time goes on, people will get an idea of how to come at it.Â And we should point out that Elliot Williams will likely spend some time guarding Greivis Vasquez, a tall, rangy guard who just gutted UNC like a fish this past weekend.Â That's not to diminish Jeff Teague, who presents some huge challenges.Â But Vasquez is bigger, stronger, and older.
Like Duke, Maryland has changed their roster since the game in Durham.Â They've been starting Landon Milbourne, Dave Neal, rookie Sean Mosely, Vasquez, and Adrian Bowie.
Like Duke, it's not a huge lineup.Â Milbourne and Neal are 6-7, Vasquez is 6-5, Mosely, 6-4, and Bowie 6-2. Yet somehow they managed to limit Deon Thompson to 13 points and Tyler Hansbrough to 11 and Ed Davis to four.Â Part of that no doubt was Carolina's fault, but you still have to give Maryland credit for guts and moxie.
Maryland may have one other advantage over Duke, and that's that they've been using more guys.Â Against UNC, nine guys pulled significant minutes.
Still, Duke presents some real issues for Maryland.Â Kyle Singler will be the biggest guy on the court a lot of the time, and it's not like he spends his time chained to the post. If Maryland runs man to man, that pulls away one inside guy.Â Moseley is a solid defender and he may well draw Jon Scheyer.Â He poses some problems, but Scheyer will be playing against a guy his own size.
Someone's got to guard Gerald Henderson, too, and they might opt to run Mosely on him to protect Vasquez.
Lance Thomas will be playing against similar-sized guys and he's much quicker than Neal and is a reasonable matchup against Milbourne, who was the only guy to score more than five points in Cameron with 19.
One thing that probably won't be the same as it was in Durham is the number of turnovers Maryland had.Â For most of the season they've been pretty good at hanging on to the ball. Taking it away from them made that game a lot easier.
Maryland basketball, to an extent, is defined by Gary Williams' and his desire to stick it to people who he perceives as seeing themselves as better.Â This is aided and abetted by the inferiority complex many Maryland fans also feel.Â When Duke is involved, with their decades of winning under Coach K, and the perception among Maryland fans that Duke is indifferent towards the Terps, it's a combustible mixture.Â It's not as dangerous as it was a few years ago, when Nate James beat Maryland twice on late tip-ins, much less the Final Four game or the Gone In 54 Seconds game.
The first Duke game laid the groundwork for the dump Gary movement, which seems to have abated lately.Â Maryland fans, seeing a remarkable turnaround, and a chance, in one swoop, to come tantalizingly close to securing a bid (wins over Duke, UNC, and Michigan State make a good argument and pretty much nullify that Morgan State disaster) and to stick it to Duke when they never expected to have a chance...well, it's going to be very, very intense in Comcast.
Duke will be favored by the oddsmakers, and it may sound funny, but they'll have a lot to overcome.Â Arguably, they're the underdogs. There's no question who has the most talent, but in this game, our guess is that the team that plays together the best will be the one that wins out.