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Hello, Brooklyn: A Preview Of Maryland vs. #3 Kentucky At The Barclays Center

The Maryland Terrapins open the 2012-13 season up against #3 Kentucky Wildcats in the brand new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn tonight.

Kevin C. Cox

"New york, New York it's a hell of a town. The Bronx is up and I'm Brooklyn down" - Beastie Boys

While the Beastie Boys unfortunately won't be opening up for the game this evening, the house that Jay-Z built will be home to a very exciting game on opening night of the 2012-13 College Basketball Season. These two teams have been linked all summer with their recruitment for the Harrison Twins, which Kentucky ultimately won.


The Wildcats are the defending National Champions, and despite losing six players to the NBA last season, Coach John Calipari brought in another fantastic recruiting class. Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein look to be another in a line of fantastic freshmen classes under Calipari at UK. Add in two transfers in Guards Julius Mays (NC State via Wright State) and Ryan Harrow (NC State), and it looks as though the Wildcats have reloaded completely.

Maryland is coming off a tough 17-15 season, and the loss of their leading scorer (Terrell Stoglin) and a bench player (Mychal Parker) who have left the program; plus, the graduation of senior Sean Mosley. The Terrapins look to be reborn under Coach Mark Turgeon, who looks to have brought in a strong freshmen class of his own. Big men Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell provide immediate depth for the Terrapins front court, while Seth Allen and Jake Layman add depth and needed shooters on the wing. Turgeon also added a pair of transfers of his own in Dez Wells (Xavier) and Logan Aronhalt (Albany).

About Kentucky:

Kentucky is a ten-point favorite tonight on a neutral court against the Terrapins, and rightfully so. Noel was considered the top prospect in the country last season, and while he isn't fully developed on the offensive end, he could turn out to be one of the best defensive players in the country this season, despite being a freshman. Sounds awfully familiar, no?

The comparisons between Noel and 2012 No. 1 Pick Anthony Davis have been made all summer and will continue to be made, but that doesn't mean fans should be expecting the immediate production from Noel that Davis saw, but time will tell.

Poythress and Goodwin are two athletic players on the wing, and also happened to be top-15 recruits. The pair are athletically gifted, and both have the ability to knock down the occasional open jump shots. Meanwhile, Cauley-Stein is another athletic big man at Calipari's disposal.

About Maryland:

For Maryland, it will be tough to replace the scoring Terrell Stoglin provided, but the constant headache he provided his coaches and fellow players should be a welcomed relief. Maryland does have a strong cast coming back from last season. Assuming Pe'Shon Howard can stay healthy, he should be locked as the starting point guard all season long. Nick Faust looks to make the transition to leading man this year after the departures of Stoglin and Mosley. Well, that is unless Alex Len, the 7-footer from Ukraine, takes a step up in production this year.

Maryland's freshmen class was also highly touted, and Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell should see some major minutes off the bench this evening to relieve Len, and fellow starter James Padgett. Jake Layman spent the summer with U-18 Team USA and gained valuable experience. Seth Allen looked to be competing for a starting spot before Wells and Aronhalt transferred in, but still should see time at as a backup at point guard and shooting guard.

Kentucky X-Factor:

Kentucky is in a unique position, yet again, where they will be built primarily on freshmen. Obvioulsy, the freshmen, transfers and returning players won't benefit from a ton of time on the court together, and how they perform as a team in a game situation has yet to be determined. If they can come together and play well on opening night, it should bode well for the rest of the season.

Maryland X-Factor:

Maryland's transfer players. If Wells and Aronhalt are able to incorporate themselves into the team and be a calming influence on the court with the influx of young players Turgeon has brought in, Maryland might be able to hang with Kentucky. They'll also have to help make sure Kentucky isn't able to get out and run-and-gun on the Terps. Both have been fairly consistent three-point shooters in the past, and will be counted on to hit clutch shots on Friday.

Kentucky Will Win If...

Well, they should win regardless, but if they are able to get out in the open court and run the Terrapins ragged they should win. Any sort of three point threat would be welcomed as well.

Maryland Will Win If...

Kentucky doesn't show up. In all seriousness, this game will be a lot closer than most expect. If Maryland can knock down three-point shots, and the big men can hit their free throws, they should be able to hang with Kentucky. A big night from Dez Wells and Nick Faust would go a long way.


Kentucky 72, Maryland 67