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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Maryland vs Virginia Tech

Maryland 94, Virginia Tech 71

This was a statement game for the Terrapins, and even though I'm a bit bias, this is a team that is severely underrated. They can play effectively big or small and are well balanced on both ends of the court. They also have a good mix of veterans and new players.

Dez Wells has been key for the Terps, acting as the playmaker on offense and stopper defensively. He is impossible to keep out of the lane and has the body type and athleticism to be an elite finisher at the rim. Right now shooting is his only Achilles' heel, but he looks like a future first rounder.

Alex Len continues to show an excellent feel and arsenal in the post. He had 16 points and 9 rebounds in just 24 minutes. The thing about Maryland is they can focus their offense around him, but are equally deadly with him off the court. Len did have some problems with the physical play of Cadarian Raines, but it was a positive start in his mission to prove he is for real.

Maryland's freshman class is special. Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell were the two unheralded prospects from the class, but have made the biggest impact. Allen is very quick, but plays under control. He can get to the rim, pullup in the mid-range area, and stretch the defense out with his jumper. He also can transition back and forth from passer to scorer with ease.

Mitchell has earned his way into the starting lineup over senior James Padgett thanks to his ability as a rebounder. He has been one of the best in the country so far and will only get better as his conditioning improves. Turgeon says he doesn't always give 100% in practice so once he learns how to prepare himself and his body, he could be a scary force. Mitchell is a name to watch in the coming years as he plays himself into good shape.

The two top freshman from their class were Jake Layman and Shaq Cleare. Cleare was a top 50 recruit who has been outplayed by Mitchell so far, but has still contributed well himself. He doesn't have the same rebounding range as Mitchell, but has been on the receiving end of some thunderous dunks. For Layman, he got the start in the backcourt against the Hokies, creating all kinds of matchup problems. He was on Team USA's U-18 team over the summer. He's a guy the Terps will need in ACC play to stretch the defense with his shooting. Saturday was his best performace as he notche 15 points in the first half, finishing with 20.

For Virginia Tech, Erick Green managed to get 28 points even in a 94-71 route. He capitalizes on every opportunity to push the ball in transition he can get. Green is a guy who struggles with a man right in his face and Pe'Shon Howard bothered him at times. But if you get him running in transition or with the ball around a screen, he is deadly. Despite his 28 points, it seemed like the Terps kept him in check and prevented him from dictating any type of tempo. He only had 2 assists to go along with his 2 turnovers.

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