Maryland’s Steve Blake is a solid point guard, who has improved his ability to score on his own this season. He does a great job of organizing his team on offense, but he’s not a great play maker. He collects a lot of assists because his teammates are good shooters and he is a good passer; however, he can’t create shots with his dribble.
Kevin Braswell is a significantly better point guard, but it might not translate into a big edge for the Hoyas. Blake will neutralize one of Braswell’s strengths, his ability to grab steals. Braswell, however, is the key to the Hoyas’ offense, while Blake is just a piece of the Maryland pie. Braswell would probably dominate Blake in a game of one on one, but in the context of a game, Blake matches up pretty well. Also, if Braswell gets hot from outside, Blake is not tall enough to stop Braswell from bombing away.
Neither starter has a great backup, but the Hoyas depend more on Braswell than the Terps on Blake, so Maryland can afford to let Blake rest; he plays only 30 minutes per game. Also, Maryland gets 2.4 assists per game from Drew Nicholas. Nicholas plays both guard positions and he shoots more than 50 percent from the floor. Braswell has shown that he can play 39 minutes and still dominate. For him, fouls will be a larger issue than fatigue. Braswell picked up four against Hampton and his foul problems were major factors in the Pittsburgh and St. John’s losses. Edge: Hoyas
Juan Dixon is the best player on either team in this game. If he didn’t play in the ACC, he would be a lot more well known. As it is, he’s a poor man’s Joe Forte, which is a big time compliment. He uses screens effectively and he does a good job of getting lost in a defense. If all else fails, he can still break down a defender off the dribble. Most crucially, he can shoot the lights out.
He is used to going against opponents’ best defenders, but not many of them are as good as the Hoyas’ Demetrius Hunter. Hunter’s weakness is the fact that he is very aggressive, which sometimes leads to foul trouble, as it did against Hampton in the Hoyas last game.
Hunter’s offensive game has been non-existent the past three games. If he doesn’t snap out of it against the Terps, the Hoyas will be in trouble because they are going to have to keep him on the floor for his defense.
His backup, senior Anthony Perry, has played great during the Tournament and is no slouch on defense. Perry’s 10 points against Arkansas were the X-factor that pushed the Hoyas over the edge despite the sub-par game from Hunter. Even if Perry is shooting well, the matchup against Dixon dictates that the better defender, Hunter, stay on the floor. Perry is good on defense, but he’s not exceptional like Hunter or Nat Burton.
Burton hasn’t played much guard since December, but it might be a good idea to give him five minutes of following Dixon around to take pressure off of Hunter. Edge: Terps
Georgetown has three small forwards. Maryland has two, but Maryland’s are a bit better. The Hoyas’ rookie starter, Gerald Riley, usually plays less than his two backups, Victor Samnick and Nat Burton. His shooting hasn’t lived up to the high expectations set by Head Coach Craig Esherick. On defense, Riley does a good job of slowing his opponents’ down, but he isn’t a stopper.
Victor Samnick gives the Hoyas a large does of energy off the bench?sometimes too much energy. On defense, his energy allows him to stay with smaller players and then smother them with his size (6’8”). He’s also one of the team’s best rebounders. However, on offense his energy leads to sloppy play, which is a particular problem when he plays small forward against teams that use pressure defense. Maryland won’t press as much as Arkansas, but Esherick will still have to be careful with Samnick.
Burton is the most reliable of Georgetown’s small forwards; he’s also the shortest at 6’4”. Unlike Riley, he rarely looks for his shot from the outside. On defense, he makes up for his lack of height with strength.
Maryland’s Byron Mouton is a prototypical small forward (6’6”, 215 pounds), and he showed in the team’s first-round win over George Mason that he can pick up the scoring slack when his teammates struggle. His backup, Danny Miller, is a bit taller at 6’8”, but at 205 pounds, all three Hoya small forwards should be able to push him around. Miller did a great job on defense against Georgia State’s Shernard Long, a former Hoya.
If Riley isn’t on his game early, Mouton could make a major impact. Once Samnick and Burton get in the mix, the Terps’ advantage will be significantly less. The key for Georgetown here is not forgetting about Mouton and Miller. They don’t get as much attention as some of their teammates, but they can put points on the board. Edge: Terps
Maryland’s Terrence Morris is at the end of a much-hyped career. Mike Sweetney, with only one year under his belt, is already the better player.
Sweetney is arguably the best all-around player on the Hoyas this year, as well as one of the best rookies in the nation, making the Big East All-Rookie Team. His size is crucial on defense, allowing him to easily intimidate and block his opponents’ shots, which should be helpful against the much smaller Morris.
Also, his presence on the boards is unparalleled, as he leads the team in rebounds. Offensively, Sweetney understands how to remain calm and pick smart shots, which often lead to baskets. His shooting is consistent and reliable, both from the outside and down low. Morris, although he averages 12 points a game, has not been up to par on offense recently. He has not scored more than 14 points since the beginning of February.
Both teams have plenty of depth at power forward. Lee Scruggs is a much better player than Maryland’s Chris Wilcox. Victor Samnick, due to his quickness, will be very valuable if Morris gets hot on the perimeter. Edge: Hoyas
The matchup at center will probably determine the outcome of the game. Maryland’s Lonny Baxter (6’9”) has played much better than Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje (7’0”) this year, but Boumtje-Boumtje is more than capable of playing at Baxter’s level.
Baxter has a solid post-up game on offense and averages 15.2 points per game. The Terps might be better served to have him defend Sweetney in the post because he can almost match Sweetney’s low-to-the-ground force.
Both teams have great depth and size at center: Georgetown has 6’11” Lee Scruggs and 6’11” Wesley Wilson. Maryland has 6’10” Tahj Holden and 7’0” Mike Mardesich. Wilson and Scruggs are the better combination here, but for the Hoyas to win, Boumtje-Boumtje will have to be on his game.
Wilson is already Boumtje-Boumtje’s equal on offense and is a tremendously gifted shot blocker, but he can’t dominate a game the way Boumtje-Boumtje can (if you have doubts, ask Syracuse). If Scruggs gets hot from the outside, he can totally change the matchup, but most nights, the Hoyas are better off when he uses his medium-range shooting ability to punish teams that double up on Sweetney.
If Boumtje-Boumtje is flying to rebounds and swatting away Blake, Dixon and Mouton’s lay-ups, then Georgetown should win. If he gets in foul trouble or loses interest, the Hoyas will be hard pressed to stay in the game. Edge: Terps
First things first, we think it’s worth pointing out that our Sweet Sixteen prediction (made in the preseason and last week) turned out pretty nice. That being said, we still won’t pretend that we really know how the Hoyas will play. Maryland is a tough opponent, but the Hoyas still matchup pretty well. If Demetrius Hunter can keep Juan Dixon under control, the Hoyas are every bit as good as the Terps down low and Kevin Braswell has been very good lately.
Both teams press some, but neither do it well enough to really alter the course of this game. Both teams enjoy a fast-paced game. The Hoyas big edge is that their defense is significantly better than the Terps. The key as usual will be how the Hoyas react when their offense goes through a dry spell.
If they played 100 times, the Terps would probably win slightly more than half, but in the Tournament setting, the Terps have not been able to get past the round of 16. That gives the Hoyas an edge in the psychology department. Look for the Hoyas to make the right plays down the stretch as the Terps battle the demons of their recent Tournament problems. Georgetown 77, Maryland 74.