The last time the Terps played Miami, the good folks at Category6 were kind enough to participate in a Q&A about the game. Well, we've reprised the format for the rematch. We'll start with my questions and Cat6's responses end with the reverse. Category6 has cross-posted this on their site as well.
TS: The last game these two teams played resulted in a double overtime thriller. What did you learn about the Canes and what did you learn about the Terps from that game?C6: I learned that Miami really needs Kenny Kadji and they can have trouble holding a big lead but are resilient enough to overcome blowing said lead. Ironically nearly the identical thing happened when they beat Duke. As far as Maryland goes, I learned that Alex Len has some talent, and never ever ever count out Terrell Stoglin. He just won't stop shooting until the last buzzer sounds.
TS: many prognosticators are listing the Canes as the last ACC team to get an at-large bid. What do the Canes need to do to maintain NCAA bid status?
TS: has anything changed about the way Miami approaches their opponents since the last game? Do you think they are playing better, worse, or the same?
C6: I think Miami is playing a little bit better. Reggie Johnson is still not 100% and Malcolm Grant is in a prolonged slump, but Kenny Kadji (who missed the first game with a concussion) and Durand Scott are playing very well. Miami should be approaching this game with a serious sense of urgency as every game from here on out is critical if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament.
TS: What is your prediction for the game?
C6: Miami has more at stake then Maryland and therefore should come up more aggressive. Stoglin and Faust will do enough to keep the Terps in it, but Malcolm Grant will rediscover his stroke and Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji will be too much inside. Miami gets a hard fought victory 73-68.
Yes. I see them going 3-1 down the stretch and sneaking in with a 9 seed. The team has overcome so many injuries, and Jim Larranaga coached teams typically save their best for last. Miami gets in.
TS: Does Miami make the NCAA Tournament?
And my responses to Category 6's questions....
C6: How would you classify Mark Turgeon's first year in College Park? What does Maryland need to do for the remainder of this year and in the future to be more successful?
TS: Mark Turgeon is an EXCELLENT basketball coach. This team is young and relatively unheralded. Even Terrell Stoglin was barely in the Top 100 coming out of high school. Given the lack of talent and injuries, what this team has accomplished is remarkable. The Terps beat Notre Dame with 7 scholarship players. They have a legitimate shot to be .500 in the ACC. As for the future, the Terps have a good recruiting class coming in with Shaquille Cleare being the centerpiece. He'll be a great compliment to Alex Len. If Stoglin stays and he learns to share the ball better, the Terps will be Top 25.
C6: What did you see in the first match-up between these teams that would Maryland confidence? What makes Miami potentially a difficult opponent for the Terps?
TS: The Terps came back in large part due to Miami's foul problems. It doesn't appear that the Canes can guard Stoglin so he will need to remain hot if the Terps are to have a chance. The Terps big men are not stout enough defensively and that could really hurt the Terps if the Miami big men can get it going.
C6: Alex Len appears to have serious potential, but is inconsistent. In the games he has struggled, has it just been a matter of not getting him the ball enough? Do Maryland fans feel like Terrell Stoglin takes too many shots?
TS: It's more than just not getting shots. He's still learning game. Most of the time, he just doesn't know what to do in the offense or how to get good position on his defender. He continually makes rookie mistakes like bringing the ball down when he gets an offensive rebound. He is, however, an unreal talent with good shooting ability, athleticism, and ridiculous size. He needs to get to a big man camp in the offseason. If he does that he could be the most improved player in the ACC next season.
C6: How do you see this game playing out? What is your prediction?
I think the Terps will pull it out late. They've proven that they can play with Miami and the Terps are stout at home. Out of the ACC, only UNC and Duke have won at Comcast this year.
C6: How many/which teams from the ACC do you see making the NCAA Tournament?
TS: I think 6 teams should get in. Miami would be the 6th team but they will need to win 9 games in the ACC plus 1 game in the ACC Tournament. I think that is doable. The Terps will likely need four wins in Atlanta to get in. Mark Turgeon said as much at his press conference this week.