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UConn VS. Maryland

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 07-Nov-2013

The Terps and Huskies will square off on opening night in a matchup of two legendary and historic programs who have undergone coaching changes in the last year and a half.

As far as 2012 goes, both schools seem to have selected the right successors. Kevin Ollie and Mark Turgeon seem to be pushing their programs in the correct direction. Getting a win to start of their 2013 campaigns will be something undoubtedly desired by both.

This game intrigues me for a couple of reasons, but we should start with guard play. UConn went overseas to Germany a year ago and knocked off a much better team in Michigan State using excellent defense and turnover creation to lead to quick baskets and easy scores.

Maryland loses Seth Allen to injury, Pe’Shon Howard to transfer and will be working with two guards who may take a while to learn the ropes of playing the position collegiately with new teammates. 6’6 Nick Faust is a veteran and lock down defender, but he is not a great point guard and has proven turnover prone in his limited experience there.

Roddy Peters is a dynamic young freshman who can make plays, but he too is a major uncertainty. Peters is a lankly 6'4 guard who has good shiftiness, but not elite quickness. That could be a problem given the pressure Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright should be able to provide. 

The new rules this year call for more restriction in terms of the defender being able to hand check the ball-handler. Should this game be refereed in a new and absurdly tight fashion, one would think that benefits the Terps. Still, you have to worry about these Maryland guards and how they’ll fare here. They are overmatched and it could prevent them from getting into half court sets that benefit their offensive weapons. 

Turgeon has openly expressed a desire to run his offense through former Xavier transfer Dez Wells. With Alex Len gone to the NBA, Wells figures to be a guy who does quite a bit of posting up at both the elbow area and low block. Add in the fact that Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman can stretch the floor, and that could provide inside-out offense for Maryland which would hide their inexperience at guard.

But, overall, Maryland is thin. They don't have a ton of options capable of getting their offense going, but if they minimize turnovers they will hang around. 

The Huskie depth was given a major boost when it was announced two weeks ago that Kentan Facey, a 6’9 freshman from Long Island, would be eligible. Ollie has spoken openly about loving Facey’s game and anticipates giving him minutes early. Lasan Kromah, a graduate student who follows in the footsteps of R.J. Evans, comes over from George Washington and should also provide depth at the forward spots. 

I think the overall interior of both squads should be relatively even, with UConn likely being a bit more deep there. The Huskies are more thin at the guards spots, and that could haunt them down the road. 

Still, for this game, I think UConn grades out extremely well here. They are a more proven team offensively. This game should be more defensive minded, but the turnover issues and lack of guard depth for the Terps has to have their fans concerned. I believe the Huskies should be about 6.5 point favorites, and like them to make a statement of sorts in this opener. 

The total has been projected at 143, a testimony to expectations regarding more foul calls and enhanced offense. Even if this game remains defensive and that number roved to be over adjusted, the Huskies winning a 70-62 type of game makes a lot of sense for me, and I tend to think they get the lion's share of points in this spot regardless on where the over/under lands. 

UConn - 5