UNC vs. Maryland Prediction, Game Preview

    UNC vs. Maryland prediction and game preview for when the No. 9 Tar Heels host the No. 2 Terrapins in Chapel Hill, N.C.

    December 1, 2015

    No. 9 UNC will be back home in Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins in the Dean E. Smith Center. Below is the UNC vs. Maryland prediction and game preview.

    UNC vs. Maryland Game Preview

    Game Broadcast

    Date: Tuesday, Dec. 1
    Game Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
    Venue: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
    Network: ESPN

    Why You Need To Care

    If you don’t want to kick back and watch a top-10 matchup between two big-time programs, hand in your basketball card now.

    Maryland is 6-0, having survived a four-point win against Georgetown and a seven-point win against Rider two weeks ago. The Terrapins are the sixth-best shooting team in the country with 53.2 percent of its shots seeing the bottom of the nylon.

    What makes this one a thriller — aside from the potential of a rematch in the NCAA tournament — is the star-studded matchup between Melo Trimble and Marcus Paige.

    Paige has missed six games with a broken right hand. Sure, it wasn’t his shooting hand, but there was no reason for North Carolina to risk him playing with it — until now.

    The Tar Heels are 5-1 with their only loss coming on the road against Northern Iowa. Beating Maryland now could be a momentous moment in the season — one that they look back on to remind themselves of the level of basketball they’re capable of playing.

    This one should be fun.

    Why North Carolina Will Win

    Let’s take the focus off of Paige for a second. Even without its starting point guard, UNC has shared the basketball fairly well so far this season with 110 assists. That’s the 30th most assists in the nation. The three-point game has only accounted for 18.7 percent of the Tar Heels’ offense, so they’ll need to remember to stick with their basket-attacking mindset and go after Maryland’s bigs. Drive and dish. That’s UNC’s winning mentality, and when the defense collapses, that’s when the spot-up shooters go to work.

    Why Maryland Will Win

    The Terrapins’ game plan is dominated by its backcourt, and that’s definitely going to play a big part in this one. But head coach Mark Turgeon has to preach protecting the defensive glass and crashing for offensive rebounds. UNC has collected 61 more rebounds this season than Maryland. That’s where the Terrapins can really make an impact. If they keep North Carolina off the offensive glass, they’ll just have to worry about finding high-percentage shots and executing — just like they’ve done in all six of their wins.

    Players Who Matter

    Okay, now it’s time to get back to (probably) the biggest storyline related to this game: the return of Paige. We all know what the UNC star can do. His per-40-minute stats at North Carolina speak for themselves: 16.2 ppg, 5.4 apg and 1.9 spg. As far as the season goes, Paige needs to settle into being more of a playmaker and less of a scorer to elevate UNC to the next level. But for this game, he needs to find his rhythm shooting the basketball. Maryland will test his ability to go right. Aside from him, the Tar Heels need Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson to be rebounding monsters. If they haul in enough offensive boards, it might just stall Maryland’s offense.

    As for the Terrapins, look no further than Trimble. The guy can be lethal with the basketball in his hands, but he cannot afford to shoot 23.8 percent from three — his season average — in this one. Obviously, the focus will be on finding lanes to the rim, but if he finds himself on the perimeter — with UNC daring him to shoot — he needs to prove he has an ice-cold blood stream. Rasheed Sulaimon and Jared Nickens are going to be x-factors in this one, too. They’re the best three-point shooters the Terrapins have. When Trimble does penetrate, they’ll most certainly find themselves with open looks from outside.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    There’s nothing but love for the Tar Heels in this one, but until Paige proves he’s back to his old form, it’s going to be difficult to pick him instead of Trimble. Maryland will barely survive in the rebounding category, but its shooting percentage will be what downs North Carolina. Winning the turnover battle will, of course, be a huge factor, and it feels like that’s going to go the Terrapins’ way. 

    UNC vs. Maryland Prediction

    Robert Judin:
    Maryland 78, North Carolina 76

    Jordan Cornette:
    Maryland 87, UNC 84

    Line: North Carolina -6, o/u: 150.5

    MORE: Power 12 College Basketball Rankings, Week 4


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