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Maryland-UNC Preview: 5 things you need to know

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Maryland-UNC Preview: 5 things you need to know

Maryland goes on the road to face No. 9 North Carolina on Tuesday night in Chapel Hill.

Here are 5 things you need to know about the matchup.

1) How Marcus Paige changes things

All-American candidate Marcus Paige will play for North Carolina on Tuesday night and, in the process, he completely changes how the Tar Heels operate offensively. He is an elite scorer who can stretch the defense out to the perimeter -- a major hole for UNC so far this season in his absence.

Don’t be surprised if you see Rasheed Sulaimon on him at times Tuesday to mix things up, with Sulaimon being Maryland’s best perimeter defender and the one most capable of neutralizing a player of his caliber.

Having Paige on the floor takes pressure off of younger guards like Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, while also making life on the interior easier for Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks.

2) First road test

Maryland played on a neutral floor in Cancun and played in an electric atmosphere against Georgetown, but this is the team’s first true road test. And what a first test it will be, being on national television against the nation’s No. 9 team in a rekindled old-conference rivalry.

The good thing is that Maryland has the benefit of veteran depth. Jake Layman has played in Chapel Hill before. Rasheed Sulaimon did the same at Duke. Robert Carter was there with Georgia Tech. Those players can help younger guys with less experience, added to the fact that point guard Melo Trimble rarely gets rattled.

3) Playing straight up

Maryland has had issues with smaller mid-majors who trot out lineups that shift 6-6 wing players down to the power forward spot and make the Terrapins chase them around the perimeter. Games end up looking like they did against Rider and Illinois State.

North Carolina will play straight-up power conference basketball -- two guards, a wing, and two bulky or long bigs. Maryland matches up exactly against that blueprint and then it just becomes an old school battle of which basketball team is better. Every player is playing within a common role and common space and it should be a high-level back-and-forth battle.

MORE TERPS: MARYLAND HOLDS STEADY IN LATEST AP TOP 25

4) Does Mark Turgeon trust the bench?

“The bench” might be using too wide a brushstroke. Jared Nickens, Damonte Dodd, and Michal Cekovsky have clear roles and have been put in situations that reflect that. It’s whether Turgeon trusts junior college point guard transfer Jaylen Brantley.

We have seen progress from him, including against Rhode Island and Cleveland State, but in key stretches in a tough road environment against guards who have been game-tested because of Paige’s injury, will Turgeon choose to tax Melo Trimble and Sulaimon by giving them more minutes and hope for the best, or will Brantley see time on the floor?

This might be one where Trimble and Sulaimon play 38 minutes each and there’s not much of a way around it. There will be chances for Brantley to continue to develop before the start of conference play. Now might not be the time to see how far he has come. If things get dicey, my money is on Turgeon leaning on his stars.

5) What about Diamond?

Maryland freshman Diamond Stone has had his moments early this season. There are games that the Terrapins don’t win without him and there are games where foul trouble shifts him into the background.

Turgeon said on Monday that Stone will sit when he gets his first foul because he has a tendency to hang his head. The hope, then, would have to be that he does not foul because his offensive production and bulk against Meeks and Johnson in the post could be important.

Stone is an incredibly skilled offensive big man, especially for how young he is. Get him a touch around the rim and it seems like he finishes every time, even through contact.

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

The world of college basketball has been on high alert since last fall when reports first surfaced of a longterm FBI investigation into the worst-kept secret in sports: college athletes being paid to play.

News surrounding the scandal died down after the inital wave of arrests, but Yahoo! Sports released a warning of sorts recently and followed it up on Friday by naming players (both past and present) for the first time. There were dozens of programs and players implicated, including Maryland's Diamond Stone.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon released the following statement Friday afternoon.

"Late last night we were alerted of a report associating one of our former student-athletes with an agent. We are extremely disappointed, and we will fully cooperate with any investigation. I do not have a relationship with Andy Miller or anyone from his agency, and at no time have I ever had a conversation with Andy Miller or his agency regarding any Maryland basketball player. We remain steadfast in upholding a program of integrity that reflects the values of our University community."

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season, after which he left for the NBA. That Terps team was highly-ranked entering the season but ended up losing in the Sweet 16 to top-seeded Kansas.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

Andy Miller is the agent whose financial records were used to implicate so many players in the Yahoo! Sports report. It's no surprise that Turgeon would deny having a relationship with Miller regarding any of his players, but the question remains: What does this mean for Maryland basketball?

You can be sure that Turgeon will be meeting with both past and current assistant coaches Friday to confirm they have not had any involvement with Andy Miller. He'll also certainly be meeting with higher-ups at Maryland, as they try to cover their bases. 

That said, it seems unlikely Maryland would take an action as drastic as firing Turgeon over these allegations. There has been no evidence released so far that implies Turgeon had any knowledge of Stone's actions. Barring further information coming to light, it seems as though this is a case of Stone developing a relationship with Miller's agency separately from Maryland.

Some of the more vocal members of Maryland's fan base would like to think Turgeon is on the hot seat. The truth is, given his long-term contract and the current state of Maryland's finances, it's not currently feasible to fire him and expect to afford a more accomplished coach. Though if further reports indicate Turgeon was complicit, then all bets are off.

It remains possible the NCAA will impose punishments on the schools involved with this scandal, in the form of reduced scholarships, postseason bans, or worse. But that's likely off the table until further evidence comes out regarding how much schools and coaches actually knew. It is a near-certainty that some schools were in cahoots with Miller and other agents; the problem is identifying which schools were intentionally breaking the rules, and which were simply unaware. Ultimately, however, some degree of responsibility falls on the head coach.

For now, the biggest worry on the minds of Maryland fans should be vacated wins. If Diamond Stone was ineligible, then it's possible the victories Maryland recorded during the 2015-16 season will be erased from the record books. Unfortunately, this could include their run to the Sweet 16, which was the program's first in more than a decade.

Given the expectations surrounding the team during Stone's year in College Park, his tenure could already be considered a disappointment. Losing those wins would further dampen the memories fans have from that season.

On the bright side, at least the Terps didn't have a Final Four run to lose.

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

LINCOLN, Neb. -- James Palmer Jr. scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, Isaiah Roby had all 11 of his after half, and Nebraska held off Maryland 70-66 on Tuesday night.

Palmer and Roby combined for 35 of the Cornhuskers' 40 second-half points, and they secured their first 20-win season since 2008. They won a sixth straight conference game for the first time in 20 years.

Palmer scored 15 straight points for the Huskers (20-8, 11-4 Big Ten) over a 10-minute span that ended when Roby hit one of two free throws with 2:57 left for a 64-59 lead. Roby had a double-double, with 10 rebounds, and he also blocked three shots.

The Terps (17-11, 6-9) had a chance to take the lead with a minute to play, but Glynn Watson Jr. blocked Anthony Cowan Jr.'s 3-point try, Evan Taylor came up with the loose ball and got it to Watson.

Watson missed a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout, and Roby got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He made both free throws for a 66-63 lead. Kevin Huerter's layin cut it to one point before Watson made two free throws.

Huerter went to the line with 2.8 seconds left, and after making the first free throw he intentionally missed the second. Palmer got the rebound, was fouled and put the game away with two free throws.

Bruno Fernando led the Terps with 21 points and nine rebounds. Huerter added 12 points and Darryl Morsell had 11.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terps' fading NCAA Tournament hopes might have been dashed with their seventh straight road loss.

Nebraska: The Huskers are resting firmly on the NCAA bubble and absolutely needed this win. They got it, thanks to Palmer and Roby's efforts in the second half.

UP NEXT

Maryland hosts Rutgers on Saturday. It's the teams' only meeting this season.

Nebraska visits Illinois. The Huskers beat the Illini 64-63 in Lincoln on Jan. 15.

RELATED: DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Missed opportunities