I don't think I can overstate how important that victory over #6 Michigan State is. This Maryland team has had some consistency problems earlier in the season and had yet to play with the kind of confidence we've come to expect from a Gary Williams coached team.
Last week the Terps struggled to beat Vermont at home, but tonight they blew Michigan State off a neutral court. That's exactly the type of win the tournament selection committee loves to see, and it's not too early to start talking about building a tournament resume.
Everyone played well for the Terps tonight, but I have to start off by talking about Dave Neal. He's been the butt of a lot of jokes over the years, and there are plenty of Maryland fans who still cringe every time he steps on the court. But tonight he played like a senior: 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. One thing I've noticed about Dave Neal is that he's improved markedly each year. His freshman year he played mainly in garbage time, but as he's matured, he's earned more and more playing time. On a team whose biggest weakness is big men, Neal is going to be a huge contributor this year.
One of my big questions heading into the season was how much Braxton Dupree had improved over the off-season. Through the first three games, that was still an open question. Tonight, he answered any critics with the most aggressive performance of his career.
Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley also turned in unexpectedly huge performances.
The big difference between this game and a lot of Terps games over the past few years is that they played hard for 40 minutes. They built a lead, the Spartans fought back, but Maryland didn't give up, regained the lead, and won the game running away.
With the tough victory over Vermont and tonight's huge win over MSU, we're seeing the Terps mature before our eyes. There are going to be some rough spots ahead this season, but Maryland is a very dangerous team that will punish any team that overlooks them.
November 27, 2008
November 26, 2008
Every Thanksgiving we get to give thanks for football rivalries. Some of the best rivalries in football are played this weekend every year, and this year they include many of the top 10 teams in the country in in-state showdowns (Alabama, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma...) Enjoy!
Texas A&M (+35) over TEXAS - In a rivalry game, 35 pts is a lot to ask, especially when the Aggies have won the last 2 years. Granted the Aggies are awful this year, but Texas hasn't beaten any Big 12 team by 35+ points this year. The Horns also haven't beaten the Aggies by 35 in quite some time. I'm going with history.
BOSTON COLLEGE (-6.5) over Maryland - Even with a backup QB, the Eagles' superiority in the trenches will dictate this game. Plus the Terps have sucked on the road this year.
Virginia (+8) over VIRGINIA TECH - This spread's too big. I don't know that the Cavs can pull out a win, but I expect a very tight game.
Oklahoma (-7) over OKLAHOMA STATE - Oklahoma will win and put up some style points to get into the Big 12 Championship.
Georgia Tech (+8.5) over GEORGIA - Always a competitive game and UGA's been a little overrated all year due to a few injuries. If GT plays like they did against Miami, they have a legitimate shot to win. The GT defense is fully capable of keeping the Jackets in the game, and don't underestimate an option offense that racked up yards against Miss St, FSU, and Miami. Other teams haven't found those defenses so friendly. The advantage for the Dawgs is that they have had two weeks to prepare for the option.
USC (-32.5) over Notre Dame - I hope they hang 70 on the Irish, and it might happen.
Oregon (+3) over OREGON STATE - The only benefit of OSU going to the Rose Bowl is that we might see USC vs. Texas/Oklahoma, instead of having to watch them destroy another Big 10 pretender.
Last Week: 4-4
Plenty of football for the Turkey Day weekend, be sure to get your fill.
Arizona (+3) over PHILADELPHIA: I don't really understand this line. The Cardinals are pretty good and the Eagles have had way too much drama the last few weeks.
Baltimore (-7) over CINCINNATI: The Ravens seem to be hitting their stride and they know this is a must-win game.
Indianapolis (-4.5) over CLEVELAND: Peyton can smell the playoffs.
MINNESOTA (-3.5) over Chicago: Two teams moving in opposite directions.
Pittsburgh (-1) over NEW ENGLAND: I normally hate picking the Steelers, but I don't think the Patriots are in the same league.
Jason couldn't get his picks in time this week because he's too busy making creme brulee and other Thanksgiving treats. Either that, or he finally got above .500 and wants to retire.
Arizona (+3) over PHILADELPHIA - A very short week for the Cardinals who played Sunday afternoon and have to fly to Philly with only two days of practice to play the Eagles. Still, I like the Cards in this old-school, pre-realignment NFC East rematch.
New York Giants (-3) over WASHINGTON - Let's see... a banged up Redskins D going against this Giants offense. Yeah, not so sure our offense will be able to come close to matching the Giants' firepower. Prove me wrong, Redskins!!!
Indianapolis (-4.5) over CLEVELAND - This is a Browns team in turmoil going up against a Colts team that has won four straight.
OAKLAND (-3) over Kansas City - Tyler Thigpen hasn't been playing bad lately, but the Raiders D is pretty staunch (by AFC West standards) and K.C. is winless on the road this year.
Carolina (+3) over GREEN BAY - Nobody likes playing at Lambeau this time of year, but I'll take the Panthers and the points in this one.
Magic 8 Ball (33-26-1) :
Arizona (+3) over PHILADELPHIA - "Don't count on it." (Eagles won't beat spread)
WASHINGTON (+3) over New York Giants - "Yes." (Redskins will beat spread)
Indianapolis (-4.5) over CLEVELAND - "Don't count on it." (Browns won't beat spread)
OAKLAND (-3) over Kansas City - "Signs point to yes." (Raiders will beat spread)
GREEN BAY (-3) over Carolina - "My sources say yes." (Packers will beat spread)
Any expression of confidence here would be laughable given my record and the fact that I haven't watched an NFL game in a couple weeks.
Baltimore (-7) over CINCINNATI - I predict the Ravens defense will outscore the Bungles offense.
Indianapolis (-4.5) over CLEVELAND - We're back to the Derek Anderson Browns, and the Colts are playing like the Colts again.
SAN DIEGO (-5) over Atlanta - When the Falcons have struggled this year, it's been when they couldn't run the ball on the road.
NY Giants (-3) over WASHINGTON - What have we seen recently from the Skins that makes us think they'll beat the best team in the NFC?
San Francisco (+7) over BUFFALO - Don't get all excited about last week's anomaly, the Bills are still struggling.
Brien: ARZ, BAL, IND, MIN, PIT
Jeremy: ARZ, NYG, IND, OAK, CAR
Russell: BAL, IND, NYG, SD, SF
November 25, 2008
I did a guest post on Hugging Harold Reynolds' excellent Fan Foodie blog reviewing the food options at Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center. Let's just say that Boadwalk Fries featured prominently in the review.