Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Maryland opens tournament

Maryland is scheduled to play the first game of the opening round of the NCAA tournament. There is a "play in" game tonight between Niagara and Florida A&M. The tip is scheduled for 12:20 on Thursday afternoon.

In reviewing Davidson I think it is difficult to predict how well they matchup against Maryland. The quality of their schedule was so bad that it is hard to say how good Davidson really is right now. I am sure that Gary Williams has called his old friend Bobby Cremins, who currently coaches College of Charleston, for a scouting report on Davidson. Cremins' team lost to Davidson in the Southern Conference championship game. Everyone knows about Dell Curry's son and the 3-point shooting prowess of Davidson. Almost 40% of all the shots Davidson takes are from the perimeter compared to 25% for Maryland. This would seem to be in Maryland's favor as they are one of the top teams in the country at defending the 3-point line. The "mid-major" teams that Maryland played this season had even less success from the 3-point line than opponents in ACC play.

Davidson hasn't played even an NIT level opponent in at least a month so it is impossible to determine how well they are playing. In the games against power conference teams they didn't really distinguish themselves. They are a good free throw shooting team and Maryland will need to keep from committing stupid fouls and letting Davidson get into the bonus. Maryland should also have a significant advantage with its bench as Davidson only goes about 7 deep and has little size on the inside. Davidson is a good rebounding team, at least statistically, but seems to do a better job with defensive rebounding than offensive. Despite this they were out rebounded by every high major team they played except a mediocre Missouri squad.

Stephen Curry has gotten deserved attention with his performance in the Southern Conference tournament but when you look a little closer you find that he didn't play so well against the more athletic and deep power conference teams he played. Curry went a combined 8-27 from 3-point range against Duke, Missouri and Michigan. He didn't even play all that well against Arizona State which was the biggest win Davidson had all season. Will he be able to get his shot off against DJ Strawberry, who is more aggressive, quick and physical than any defender he has seen all year? I would say that is unlikely.

Without Curry having a phenomenal game I don't think it is possible for Davidson to come away with a win. As long as Maryland's frontcourt comes ready to play by exploiting a major talent gap with Davidson in the paint and limiting them to one shot per possession on offense the Terrapins should romp to the second round.

Did you notice Maryland wraps up the regular season ranked 18 in the AP poll and 22 in coaches poll? Not bad.

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