Roy Williams' Tar Heels are sitting atop the ACC standings, tied with Duke and Florida State at 6-1. The team has won four straight since suffering a humbling loss at Florida State a couple of weeks ago. Most recently, UNC dispatched Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, 68-53.
Mark Turgeon's first season in College Park has certainly come with its ups and downs. The Terrapins are five games over .500 on the year, but one game under that mark (3-4) in-conference. Maryland has dropped four of its last five games, including a heart-breaking 90-86 double-overtime affair at Miami earlier this week.
Maryland has won four of the last six meetings in this series, but North Carolina still holds a sizable 115-57 lead overall. UNC has lost five of the last seven meetings in College Park.
The Tar Heels have recently lost starting guard Dexter Strickland to a season- ending knee injury, but with superior talent and depth, they will be able to assuage the loss. North Carolina enters this contest as the top offensive team in the nation, averaging 84.1 ppg on a healthy .471 shooting. UNC has also carried over its strong play to the defensive end, holding foes under 40 percent from the floor (.384) and leading the nation with a +11.8 rebounding margin. The team is fueled by the best frontcourt in the country, with Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller all playing at an All-American level. Barnes has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, averaging 17.3 ppg. Zeller is next in line at 15.0 ppg and is almost averaging a double- double with 9.7 rpg. Henson is averaging a double-double, with 14.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall is tasked with getting the ball to the right people and is as good as it gets nationally in that regard, averaging 9.5 assists per game (second nationally).
Zeller was unstoppable in the win over Wake Forest this week, posting 18 points and 18 rebounds. Henson also had a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards. Marshall got into the act as well as a scorer with 14 points, while dishing out six assists, while Barnes completed the top scorers with 13 points. UNC won handily, despite shooting a poor .310 from the floor overall, including .211 from behind the arc. The Tar Heels made up for it by outrebounding the Demon Deacons 55-40, including grabbing 22 offensive boards.
Despite having the conference's top scorer, the Terrapins lack the kind of offensive depth needed to win games against the upper echelon in the ACC. Maryland comes into this game averaging a modest 69.4 ppg on .432 shooting. The problem is, that the team is yielding 69.9 ppg. Terrell Stoglin has done all he can to keep the Terps competitive. The 6-1 sophomore is averaging an ACC-best 21.8 ppg and is responsible for more than half (58) of the team's three-pointers to date (105). Backcourt mate Sean Mosley is a distant second in the scoring column at 10.1 ppg. Junior forward James Padgett (9.0 ppg, team-high 5.9 rpg) is the top option up front.
Maryland came all the way back from a 16-point point second-half deficit to force two overtimes at Miami, but was unable to get the win, falling by four points to the Hurricanes. The setback spoiled a career-night for Stoglin, who was 9-of-26 from the floor, with six three-pointers and a perfect 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, to finish with a career-high 33 points. Alex Len added 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in the loss.