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Syracuse vs Maryland Q&A with Testudo Times

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The Q&A’s are back. Thank us later.

2004 NCAA 2nd Round: Maryland v Syracuse Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Did you know? The back-to-back National Champions of 2002 and 2003 will square off on the hardwood tonight as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This game figures to be the toughest test of the young season for both the Syracuse Orange and Maryland Terrapins. In light of the matchup, we reached out to Thomas Kendziora over at Testudo Times for a Q&A. You know the drill.

0301074P Indiana v Maryland X
Juan Dixon cuts down Maryland’s 2002 championship net
Anthony cuts down the net
Carmelo doing the same in 2003
Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images

TNIAAM: First, you guys are coming off a loss to St. Bonaventure before beating New Mexico. For those of us who didn't watch, what happened in that one to Bona?

Testudo Times: Turnovers and missed shots. It’s about as simple as that.

Maryland committed 20 turnovers and only forced nine, and that makes more than enough of a difference in a close game. The Terps also made just five of their 23 three-point attempts, and while St. Bonaventure didn’t make a single three, the Bonnies made 21 of 25 free throws. It was an ugly game all around, and St. Bonaventure just happened to make the last big play.

TNIAAM: Had Maryland won that game do you think the Terps would be ranked today?

TT: If Maryland had won but played the way it did, then it would have played TCU instead of New Mexico. It’s hard to speculate what would’ve happened there, but even with two wins over the weekend, I’m not quite sure if the Terps would be ranked. They weren’t exactly knocking on the door of the rankings last week, and it would have taken three strong performances to earn a top-25 spot. If they go 3-0 this week with wins over Syracuse, Purdue and Illinois, it’ll be a different story.

TNIAAM: How does it feel to have to have the best Justin Jackson in college basketball this year?

TT: Truly an honor. And a responsibility. Both for us and for him. We’re all still adjusting, really.

TNIAAM: Speaking of which, Jackson has struggled from range early on. Any chance he gets going against the 2-3 zone?

TT: After shooting 44 percent from three in his freshman season, Jackson missed his first nine shots from beyond the arc this year. Since then, he’s 5-of-14, which is decent but still not great, and his average for the season is just 21.7 percent. But he’s a talented player who can get it going at any time, and if he gets open looks in this game, he can go on a hot streak. I wouldn’t go out and say I’m predicting it, as Maryland’s offense overall has struggled against zones, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

TNIAAM: Has there been any talk of a homecoming of sorts for Kevin Huerter?

TT: It hasn’t really been a big topic surrounding the team, but it might be a big deal to Huerter (Clifton Park is over two hours from Syracuse, so it also might not). Even if it is, he won’t have much time to reflect on it, as this will be Maryland’s third game in four days and directly precede a pair of conference games.

TNIAAM: What are some non-obvious things about this Maryland team that Syracuse fans should know?

TT: If you haven’t seen Maryland play yet, then it’ll be hard to be ready for the Bruno Fernando experience. His numbers are solid (10.3 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), but there’s something unquantifiable about a 6’10 Angolan center with a flat top who plays every possession like it’s the last minute of the game. He makes his presence felt on both ends of the floor, and he’s the type of player who will pump up a crowd in the middle of the first half. If he gets going, it’s another versatile weapon for Maryland.

TNIAAM: Prediction time: what's the final score? Who wins and why?

TT: Maryland is the more talented team right now, and although the Terps’ schedule hasn’t been that formidable so far, they still enter this game as the more battle-tested team. Syracuse’s zone will cause problems, and playing this game in the Carrier Dome adds an extra obstacle for the road team, but I like Maryland’s chances to pull this one out. I’ll go with a 69-65 final score.

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Be sure to head on over to testudotimes.com for our Q&A and well.

Excited for the game tonight? Worried about the first true test of the season? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.