testudo halfcourtWho: Maryland Terrapins vs. Boston College Eagles

What: A trap game

When: 9:00 PM

Where: The Comcast Center and ESPNU

Line: Maryland (-8)

In order for a game to be considered a trap game, two clauses need to be satisfied. A) the game that’s being looked ahead to can be no less than monumentally important (it is; if the Terps could somehow knock off Duke at Cameron it would cover up a lot of their recent indiscretions). B) the team that’s the “trap” needs to actually be decent (they are; BC may be 1-3 in conference, but all three of their losses have come by single digits.)

Looking at the games Maryland has played so far, they’ve lost one I expected them to win (FSU at home) and vice versa (NC State at home). Neither was incredibly surprising. If Maryland were to lose this game, I would be shocked. Boston College has some ugly losses this season (home vs. Bryant and a double digit beat down from Harvard also at home). They don’t rebound or defend that well, and their best player is an undersized post-man who should have trouble against Maryland’s bigger front line.

Eagle hunting:

Writing about BC is almost like writing about one of the mid-major teams Maryland faced in the OOC. There is no distinguishing feature to the Eagles, nothing that they really do exceptionally. They TAKE a ton of threes (BC leads the ACC in three point attempts with 363) but they’re not very good at making them (no 40% shooters on the team, and a 33.9 team percentage that ranks 8th in the conference.) Other than that, they’re a good free throw shooting team (71.2%, 3rd in the ACC) and they’re 2nd in the conference in disqualifications. Remember when Happy Gilmore played hockey? That’s what we’re looking at here. There is one area where the Eagles match the Terps: youth. Last game they started 5 underclassmen (3 sophomores and 2 freshmen).

The best player on the team is 6’8” sophomore forward Ryan Anderson. Originally I thought he was kind of like the NBA Ryan Anderson because Boston College has had a few stretch fours that could shoot the three through the years. BC Ryan Anderson is not one of those guys. He’s a no-frills mauler down low with nice touch around the basket (16.4 ppg, 4th in ACC) and he rebounds with the best of them (9.6 rpg, 3rd in ACC).

Olivier Hanlan is the starting 2-guard, and also the leading scorer among ACC freshmen (13.8 ppg). Since getting blown out by Harvard, Hanlan has scored in double digits in 9 consecutive games. If foul trouble hadn’t limited him to 24 minutes against NC State, Maryland might not be the only team talking about their big home upset over the Wolfpack. Hanlan’s contributions don’t end on offense though; he’s a pick pocket (2.2 spg in ACC play, 1.3 spg on the year) and like the Terps guards, he rebounds well (5+ rebounds in 9/17 games this season).

Joe Rahon is Hanlan’s freshman backcourt running mate. Rahon’s small (6’2”, 195 lbs) which means Seth Allen shouldn’t be a defensive liability tonight. His numbers seem to indicate that he’s a talented shooter who’s just getting comfortable. I don’t care that it was only against Dartmouth, if you go 6/6 from downtown in a game, you can shoot.

Last game, Reggie Bullock lit Maryland up from deep in the first half. The guy who’s most capable of doing that tonight is Lonnie Jackson. Jackson is the third guard in Coach Steve Donohue’s offense, and he’s the floor spreader. Since the start of ACC play, his 55.2 three-point percentage is second only to Seth Curry (third by the way is Erick Green. Not looking forward to facing him again). Like Logan Aronhalt, those threes are pretty much all that Jackson brings to the table offensively. I would expect Jackson to get a Scott Wood type treatment where someone just follows him everywhere to run him off the three line.

Patrick Heckmann is usually the 5th starter for the Eagles, but if they expect to cover Alex Len at all, I would have to think 7 foot sophomore Dennis Clifford would have to be involved. With Heckmann being 5th in scoring and an extremely short power forward at 6’5”, I have to think a lot of his minutes will go to Clifford tonight so BC can get some sort of presence on the boards. Clifford is just another big stiff. He’s averaging 4.9 ppg and 4.7 rpg on the year, and he’s just there as a Len speed bump.

Three things to watch for:

Own the boards:

I just alluded to it, but this is a really small team. There are a few big guys on the bench (6’10” Andrew Van Nest averages 12 minutes per game), but Donohue has run a 3 guard lineup out there for the majority of the Eagles games. When Len isn’t in the game, expect to see a lineup of Rahon/Hanlan/Jackson/Heckmann/Anderson where Anderson is the only guy over 6’6” on the floor. Recently BC has hung in there against some bigger teams (they were only outrebounded by 1 against NC State), but Maryland has so much depth and size up front that they should be able to overwhelm the Eagles on the boards. If Maryland doesn’t win the rebounding battle in this game by at least 10, it’s a serious short term and long term problem.

Who’s going to score on the second unit?

An ongoing saga for the Terps as long as Turgeon keeps treating the starters and the bench like oil and water. The presumed starting five of Faust/Allen/Wells/Mitchell/Len has plenty of capable scorers, even if some of them run hot and cold. When the second team steps on the floor, I have literally no idea where the scoring is going to come from. Nobody off the bench is really capable of getting their own shot besides Layman on occasion. If Turgeon is able to manage the bench in such a way that he always has a known threat on the floor, this won’t be a huge issue. But last game in North Carolina there was a team on the floor that didn’t know who was going to score or how.

Transition defense:

The numbers on BC would seem to indicate that they’re not a team that plays particularly fast (65.6 possessions per 40 minutes, 248th in the NCAA). But with a team full of guards against a big hulking team like Maryland, you would think it would behoove them to try and quicken the pace to get some easy baskets. Maryland’s transition defense is definitely a weak point on the team, so if BC does decide to press the pace, it should be interesting to see if the Terps are more organized against the fast break than they’ve been in previous games against NC State and UNC.

Prediction:

BC knocks down a couple threes early to give Maryland a scare at halftime, but Maryland tightens up the defense in the second half and dominates the rebounding game on the way to slower more methodical win in the second half.

Maryland – 70    Boston College – 60