Duke and Maryland face off tonight for the final time as conference foes, as the Terrapins plan to take their talents to the Big 10 following the season.
The Chronicle's men's basketball beat writers Andrew Beaton and Brady Buck sat down to discuss what might happen tonight:
Andrew Beaton: Brady, Duke manhandled the Terps at home. Can they do the same thing at College Park?
Brady Buck: College Park is always a difficult place to play given the hatred that the Terrapin fan base has towards the Blue Devils. So, I'm expecting this to be a much more competitive ball game than the first meeting in Durham.
The one thing that is scary for Duke, however, is that Maryland's NCAA tournament hopes hinge on winning this game, which should bring out the best in them... Don't you think?
AB: To me, the x-factor for both teams in this game is Rasheed Sulaimon, who scored a career-high 25 points to guide Duke to victory at Cameron the last time these two teams met. But 'Sheed has struggled on the road, averaging just 8.8 points on 32.5 percent shooting.
However, the key for him isn't only on the offensive end. He matches defensively up against Dez Wells, who is bigger than him and efficient on the offensive end, hitting 53.6% of his field goals.
BB: Absolutely. I'll address the other side, for Maryland, it desperately needs Alex Len to play at the level he is capable of.
He's been very underwhelming recently with scoring outputs of eight, four, 10, 12, and nine points, respectively in the team's last five games, which are all below his season average of 12.5 points. Such lackluster performances—especially on a team that struggles to generate consistent offense—are a big reason why the Terrapins are 2-3 in that span.
AB: That matchup is probably the most fun to watch: Mason Plumlee and Alex Len jockeying for position in the paint and respect for the 2013 NBA Draft.
Plumlee really set the tone of the last meeting in the game's opening seconds. He forfeited the tip to Len, and on their first possession pushed him around down low, really asserting himself as boss for that game.
BB: I think Blue Devils really need to get off to a hot start in the Comcast Center Saturday night.
Duke has come out of the gates sluggishly in its last two contests. Repeating that kind of start for a third game in a row will go a long way in helping Maryland turn the game into more of an ugly, football-type battle that is lower scoring and ultimately favors the Terrapins.
AB: And who knows, maybe people should appreciate this game. After all, it could be Duke's last trip to College Park for a long, long time.