Although these are two schools that we do not cover, I wanted to give a preview to this matchup of basketball giants this year.
Both of these teams figure to be in the picture for the number one overall team in the country, and their clash could truly be epic. Minus Dez Wells, Maryland returns everyone of importance. This includes outstanding sophomore point guard Melo Trimble, who was second in the Big Ten in scoring among freshman. Trimble will be in contention for Big Ten Player of the Year, and can hold his own against any point guard in the country. Alongside him will be highly touted freshman center Diamond Stone. Stone figures to be one of the best freshman in the country, and can man the paint as well as anyone. Throw in former Duke standout Rasheed Sulaimon as a transfer and senior power forward Jake Layman as a solid contributor, and it is easy to see why Maryland could start out as the preseason number one team in the land.
However, North Carolina are far from slouches themselves. The Tar Heels have themselves a Player of the Year candidate in outstanding senior guard Marcus Paige. Tuesday will be Paige’s first game back from a wrist injury that has sidelined him since early September. Paige can run the offense efficiently, and can score against the best of them. The Tar Heels also offer a stellar front court in senior forward Brice Johnson, junior forward Kennedy Meeks, and sophomore forward Justin Jackson.
One thing that I am really looking forward to in this one is the quality of the match-ups. It would be pressing to find a pair of point guards better than Trimble and Paige, so I expect these two to really push each other. It very well could be that whoever wins the point guard battle wins this game. Also, the front court battles are compelling. Diamond Stone comes in as a highly rated recruit, but he hasn’t been tested against the grown men that he will face in this one. Kennedy Meeks is a large man to say the least, and I could see Stone struggling to guard him in particular and maybe even getting called for some early fouls. However, it also could be a game where Stone comes into his own, and that is what makes it so interesting. Along with the match-ups, the contrasting offensive styles also add a twist to the game. North Carolina boasts one of the most up-tempo offenses in the country, while Maryland tends to slow it down and really work the ball around to get the best shot possible. These match-ups and contrast in styles could lead to an outstanding game between these two teams. Add in the Dean Smith Center venue, and you can count me in for this one.