MD moves to 5-0; beats #13 Iowa St in CBE HOF Classic Final

The University of Maryland Terrapins improved to 5-0, beating #13 Iowa State in the Final of the CBE Hall-of-Fame Classic.

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Quick Hits:

1) It was important for MD to leave this this two-day tournament with at-least one win. Getting wins over a Pac-12 team (Arizona State) last night, and beating an Iowa State team many expect to do damage in the Big 12 is huge. We have yet to reach Thanksgiving, and Maryland has added quality victories to their tournament resume.

2) Everything about winning tonight is enjoyable. One of the things to like in particular, is that MD beat the Cyclones with Dez Wells having a poor night. Wells was just 5 of 20 from the floor, finishing with 14 points. While he did contribute 9 rebounds, and 4 assists; he had 4 turnovers and questionable decision making down the stretch along with the poor shooting.

3) Big two nights these last two days for Cekovsky and Dodd. The duo has done enough these first 5 games to be really optimistic about MD overall. As the season was starting, it was known that MD looked pretty strong at guard and on the wings. It was could you get enough of a contribution on the interior to compete against quality teams? Cekovsky and Dodd are providing defense (not just blocked shots, but altered looks), getting put backs, and showing their athleticism. Last year MD could not defend the rim. Now they can. Together they combined for 8 points, 13 boards, and 3 blocks. Cekovsky had 8 rebounds himself, and gets kudos for his effort against Georges Niang. (Niang finished with 10 points, 4 of 14 from the floor.)

4) It’s also nice knowing that Smotrycz will be returning in the near-term, and adding further depth inside.

5) Graham got the start tonight, and helped the Terps get off to a positive start. It was a question of how MD would respond against a talented, experienced team (that had a large amount of their fans at the neutral floor). Graham being able to come-in, and get a couple of early scores definitely helped.

6) Layman had 15 points (4 of 8 overall, 2 of 4 from 3), and 6 boards. He also played hard on the defensive end.

7) Off-the-bench, MD got a huge lift tonight from Jared Nickens. Nickens finished with 15 points (6 of 10 overall, 3 of 7 from 3). He’s going to hunt his shot when he’s on the floor. We saw a couple of shots inside the line which were nice. He’s going to put up a lot of points during his time with the Terps.

8) As the poster ‘Mackus’ pointed out in the game thread at BSL, another good aspect of these two games is that outside of Trimble’s scoring vs. Arizona State, nothing occurred which figures to be much different vs. the normal production these players should regularly provide. Tonight, Trimble had 11 points (4 of 8 overall), with 3 steals, and 3 assists.

9) MD won the battle of the boards 36-33.

10) The Terps finished the night 26 of 59 (44%) from the floor, 8 of 19 (42%) from 3. They were 12 of 15 at the foul line.

11) Wiley’s time was limited tonight, just 4 minutes overall. He knocked down a 3 on his only shot.

12) The only Terp who probably did not enjoy his CBE HOF Classic experience was Pack. After finishing 0 for 6 last night, he was 0 for 3 tonight.

13) Now Champions of the CBE HOF Classic, MD returns to College Park for home games Friday (Monmouth) and Sunday (VMI) before also hosting former Atlantic Coast Conference foe #8 Virginia in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge next Wednesday.

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AFC North Preview for Week 13

AFC North Standings: Week 12 

Bengals 7-3-1 (2-1), common games (5-1-1, 1 left, @TB)
Ravens 7-4 (2-3) (5-1, 2 left, vs. JAX, @ HOU)
Steelers 7-4 (2-2) (5-1, 2 left, vs. NO, @ ATL)
Browns 7-4 (2-2) (4-2, 2 left, vs. IND, @ CAR)

Discuss your thoughts on this coming week on our message board.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CIN -3.5, Sun. 1:00

The Bengals lead the division by a half game by way of their week four tie against the Carolina Panthers. They get a favorable matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have yet to win a game at home this year. This matchup features two of the most exciting players in the league. Proven star wideout A.J. Green, and Bucs up and coming rookie Mike Evans. Green leads the league with 2.95 yards per route run, and Evans is becoming the league’s top deep threat with his combination of size and deceptive speed. A league best six TDs of Evans eight have come on passes over 20 yards downfield. With neither team having a good secondary, it could be a big day for those receivers.

Andy Dalton’s home and road splits are very similar, and he also excels against NFC teams with a 100.8 passer rating in 15 games. With Gio Beranrd returning, and Jeremy Hill running the ball well, the Bengals have more weapons than the Bucs do. However, Cincy is playing their third straight road game. Eventually that has to take a toll, right? I think it will be closer than folks think, and so do the experts with the line at 3.5. Two weeks ago the Bucs were a seven point dog to the lowly Redskins and won big.

Prediction: Bengals 27, Bucs 24

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers: BAL -4.5, Sun. 1:00

The Ravens return home after a convincing road win 34-27 at New Orleans on Monday night. They are 4-1 at home while the Chargers are 2-3 on the road. Not to mention the last time SD traveled east for an early game, they were shutout 37-0 by the Miami Dolphins. Shutout, in this day in age of the NFL where you can get into FG range by way of a few ticky-tack penalty flags, it’s downright unforgivable.

San Diego was on a roll starting off the season 5-1 including a home win against the defending champ Seahawks. They would lose three straight entering their bye week but have now won two in a row, albeit against the Raiders and Rams. It’s worth noting that San Diego is only 2-4 against teams with winning records. But so are the Ravens, mainly because the NFC South is that bad. The only non-division team Baltimore has played with a winning record is Indianapolis.

This week represents the first week in a gauntlet finish to the season for the Chargers. They face Baltimore, New England, Denver, San Francisco and Kansas City to finish out the season. A combined record of 38-17 (.690). Does that mean that this is a trap game for San Diego as they could get caught up looking ahead to the AFC leading Pats and division rival Broncos? Or does it mean that they understand how important it is to get a win this week as they will likely be heavy underdogs the next two weeks.

Phillip Rivers is still one step behind the elite guys in this league, but owns a respectable 101.4 passer rating (fifth best). Also 22 TDs to go along with just nine INTs. That is about where the offensive accolades end for the Chargers as the running game is not very good. It’s so bad, they don’t bother with play action, running play actions on just 9.8% of all dropbacks. Nick Foles and the Eagles lead the league with play action calls on 32.3% of pass plays. If Rivers throws the ball 30 times, only about three times all day will they utilize play action, meaning Ravens might as well just zero in on the ball carrier all the time when Rivers hands that ball out for the handoff. Chargers RB Brandon Oliver has notched just 2.8 YPC in three of his last four games. The other game, he managed 1.5 YPC. 13 rushes for 19 yards in the Miami debacle. Ryan Matthews is back in the fold, but missed significant time with an injury. He did go for over 100 yards on 12 carries last week against the Rams though.

To sum it up, the Chargers are one dimensional. The Ravens front seven should have no problem stopping the run. The Ravens secondary should only have to worry about one thing. Not getting beat deep, and they shouldn’t because there is no reason to get caught peeking in the back field. The Chargers don’t run the ball well, and they rarely fake as if they will which often draws the secondary up.

For more on the Ravens, check out the coverage here at BSL throughout the week.

Prediction: Ravens 23, Chargers 13

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New Orleans Saints: PIT -3, Sun. 1:00

This is one of the tougher games to predict. The Steelers were a five point dog vs. IND and put up 51 points, winning by 17. They were a two point favorite against the Ravens and won by 20. However, they were heavy favorites in each of their last two matchups and failed to cover the spread against poor Jets and Titans teams. The Saints have the same resume coming into this one. They were favored in their last three home games and lost all three.

Pittsburgh is 4-1 at home this season, while New Orleans hasn’t traveled well going 1-4 on the road. After three straight home games, are they too settled in to handle a road game?

Both QBs are having great seasons, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees. According to PFF, they rank #1 and #2 in accuracy under pressure. So blitzing won’t exactly be the answer here. With both teams having good QBs, and receiving weapons like Antonio Brown and Jimmy Graham, Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell will be the X-factor here. He’ll need to have a game for Pittsburgh to win. The way Justin Forsett carved up the Saints D on Monday night, this looks like it could be a given.

On the defensive side, Pittsburgh has the advantage as well. Lawrence Timmons is one of the better run stopping LBs in the league, leading a top ten unit in stopping the run. It could be a long day for Saints RB Mark Ingram, but opposing defenses have to respect Drew Brees so much that it should open up lanes underneath for Ingram to run through. This one could come down to coaching, and who executes better in crunch time.

The Saints don’t want to endure that eighth loss. As bad as the NFC South has been, led by the 4-7 Falcons, a sub .500 record still may not get you the division title. The one takeaway from the Monday night game, Drew Brees can still take over a game and win, as bad as their defense may be. Forsett and the short passing game just kept Brees’ playing time limited in the fourth quarter, leading to a longshot at a comeback. With their backs against the wall, Sean Payton and the Saints should be about to throw caution to the wind and play with reckless abandon. That makes them pretty dangerous.

Prediction: Saints 42, Steelers 31

Cleveland Browns @ Buffalo Bills: BUF -1, Sun. 1:00

The Bills enter this game as one of the teams the experts can’t seem to find a pulse on. They have covered the spread just twice in their last eight games, but are coming off a dominating 38-3 showing against the Jets. For the Browns, sure they have seven wins now, after being gift wrapped a prevent (you from winning) defense by Atlanta, for an easy drive for Brian Hoyer to move into FG range and steal a win from the Falcons. Aside from division wins in Cincinnati a couple weeks back, and early on against the Steelers, they haven’t faced and passed a real test otherwise. They we’re beat by Ryan Mallett and the Texans a week ago, lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and narrowly escaped with a one point win against the Titans. Both of those games on the road. The Browns will once again head on the road against a team that with a win can find themselves in the playoff conversation. Something Bills fans have been waiting a long, long time for.

The folks in Buffalo are enduring quite a hardship with the deadly snow storms that blasted them, now dealing with the flooding from the thaw. You can’t explain it, but teams usually find a way to rally when their fans face adverse conditions. Think the Saints and Hurricane Katrina, the Red Sox following the Marathon bombings. Of course the snow pales in comparison, but you get the idea. It’s a hardship nonetheless.

Combine the extra motivation by Buffalo with Cleveland’s road struggles, plus the Bills looking to improve to 7-5 and find themselves in the hunt…

Prediction: Bills 23, Browns 16

Other Games of note:

Denver (8-3) @ Kansas City (7-4): DEN -2, Sun. 8:30
Miami (6-5) @ New York Jets (2-9): MIA -4.5,  Mon. 8:30


Happy Thanksgiving all!

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Terps overcome Arizona State; Will face Alabama / Iowa State

Following a 78-73 victory over Arizona State; the University of Maryland Terrapins have advanced to the Championship Game of the CBE Hall-of-Fame Classic tomorrow night vs. either Alabama or #13 Iowa State. 

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)


Quick Hits:

1) Huge game for the Freshman Melo Trimble, as he scored a game high 31 points. He was 7 of 11 from the floor, 4 of 6 from 3, and 13 of 14 from the line. The offense never felt forced. The 31 points established a new Freshman record at MD for scoring in a single game (eclipsing Joe Smith). If you wanted to criticize him at all, he had 3 turnovers against just 1 assist.

2) When a team is playing just the 4th game of their season, it is easy to dismiss the importance; but that would be a mistake here. Maryland is attempting to reach the tournament for the first time since Vasquez’s Senior year, and the first time under Coach Turgeon. A neutral court win vs. a major conference team is a feather in their cap for later. This was also a game which could have gone either way down the stretch, credit to the Terps for getting the W.

3) Arizona State was 14 of 27 from 3. To be able to overcome that, is also impressive.

4) Maryland won the battle on the on boards, 34 to 24.

5) Dodd and Cekovsky combined to go 6 of 11 from the floor, for 12 points, 8 boards, and 5 blocks. Some nice moments of aggression (and athleticism) from each.

6) Did not see Graham tonight. Not sure if the bench was tightened up against a better opponent, or there was another reason for his absence which I missed.

7) Overcoming a 1-7 start in the first half, Wells finished with 14 points (7 of 18). He added 8 boards, 4 assists, and 4 steals.

8) Layman had a nice game. Several times taking defenders off the dribble, and going across the lane. 5 of 8 from the floor, 12 points, with 4 boards.

9) Pack had 4 boards, and 3 assists; but a poor night shooting – going 0 for 6 overall, including 0 of 3 from 3.

10) Wiley had 8 points off the bench (3 of 4), while Nickens was a ghost tonight (0 for 1).

11) Helped by Trimble’s night, MD was 16 of 18 overall at the foul line.

12) Just 10 turnovers for the Terps.

13) Leaving the CBE HOF Classic with at-least 1 win needed to happen. With that first win in the bag, it’s time to be greedy tomorrow night.

If Maryland faces Alabama tomorrow:

- The Crimson Tide entered their game tonight at 3-0, with wins against Towson, Western Carolina, and Southern Miss.

- Coming into tonight, Alabama averages:
81 points per game (39th Nationally)
35.7 rebounds (188th Nationally)
13 assists (159th Nationally)
.497 fg% (44th Nationally)
65 points per game allowed (164th Nationally)
5.3 blocks (41st Nationally)
8.7 steals (59th Nationally)

- In the CBS Sports  SEC preview, Alabama was picked to finish 6th
- In the NBC Sports / College Basketball Talk SEC preview, Alabama was picked to finish 12th

Senior Guard Levi Randolph is leading Alabama in scoring, rebounding, and assists.
Junior Guard Ricky Tarrant (a Tulane transfer) is second in scoring.

If Maryland faces #13 Iowa State tomorrow:

- The Cyclones came into tonight at 2-0, with wins over Oakland, and Georgia State.

- Coming into tonight, Iowa State averages:
87 points per game (23rd Nationally)
36.5 rebounds (166th Nationally)
20.5 assists (9th Nationally)
.500 fg% (40th Nationally)
70 points per game allowed (249th Nationally)
2 blocks (296th Nationally)
5.5 steals (249th Nationally)

- In the CBS Sports Big 12 Preview, Iowa State was picked to finish 2nd
- In the NBC Sports / College Basketball Talk Big 12 Preview, Iowa State was picked to finish 3rd
- A full Iowa State preview from NBC Sports / College Basketball Talk can be found here

Junior Forward Georges Niang (6’8, 230 lbs) is averaging 20 points per game, and 10 boards.
Senior Guard Bryce Dejean-Jones is averaging 17.5 ppg, 9 boards, and 5.5 assists.

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