Terps and Tide square off in San Juan

The 16th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide open up play in the Puerto Rico Tip Off this evening, taking on the Maryland Terrapins at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico.

Mark Turgeon's debut as the coach at Maryland was a successful one, as the Terrapins knocked off UNC-Wilmington on Sunday, 71-62. Turgeon takes over for legendary coach Gary Williams. An accomplished coach in his own right, Turgeon led his teams to 20 or more wins in seven of the last eight seasons, including Texas A&M's 24-9 mark a year ago.

There is a great deal of optimism in Tuscaloosa this season and not just surrounding the football program. Anthony Grant is in his third season at the helm and has a team that should vie for the SEC title in 2011-12. The Crimson Tide have gotten off to a strong start with a pair of lopsided wins over North Florida (64-44) and most recently, Oakland (74-57).

This is the fourth time that these two programs have met, but the first since the 1985-86 season. Maryland has won all three prior matchups.

The winner of this game will take on either Colorado State or Wichita State in the next round.

The Terrapins are an inexperienced team, as four of the five starters in the opener against UNC-Wilmington were making their first collegiate starts. Questions regarding depth abound as well, with sophomore guard Pe'Shon Howard out with a broken foot and freshman Alex Len serving a 10-game suspension to begin the year. Still, the Terps were able to win their 10th straight season- opener and 35th straight at home with the nine-point decision over the Seahawks. Terrell Stoglin led the way at the offensive end with 22 points, thanks to a 10-of-11 showing from the free-throw line. Ashton Pankey and James Padgett chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively, as Maryland shot a solid 48.1 percent from the field overall.

The Crimson Tide have been led by senior forward JaMychal Green in each of their first two games, as he netted 18 points in both. Help in the frontcourt has come in the form of junior forward Tony Mitchell, who recorded a double- double in the opener and just missed a second one in the win over Oakland. In topping the Grizzlies, Mitchell trailed Green in the scoring column with 12 points, while grabbing nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Trevor Releford, who netted seven in the season-opener, netted 14 against Oakland, while freshman guard Trevor Lacey chipped in 10 points off the bench. Alabama shot an impressive .509 from the floor against Oakland and outrebounded the Grizzlies, 39-27.