This preview was written by TerrapinStationMD staff writer Chris Bengel, follow him on Twitter for timely and informative Tweets on all things Maryland Terrapins @durtypuckhead.
The Teams: Virginia Cavaliers 16-6 (6-3) vs. Maryland Terrapins 16-6 (5-5)
The Time: 1 pm ET
The Location: Comcast Center. College Park, MD
TV/Radio: ESPN3, 105.7 FM
The Backstory: After the last two wins against the likes of Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, the Terrapins have achieved two feats: winning back-to-back ACC games and winning a road ACC game. Maryland edged out a scrappy Hokies squad on Thursday night despite trailing by three at halftime. Erick Green did his best Terrell Stoglin impression to the tune of 29 points. However, the Terrapins we’re able to make their free throws down the stretch and escape Blacksburg with a win. Maryland was strong on the boards and outrebounded the Hokies 46-38. In his second consecutive game in the starting lineup, James Padgett was active on the glass as he grabbed 11 boards while netting eight points. Charles Mitchell pulled down nine rebounds as well. The story was Jake Layman who is asserting himself as a Hokie killer. The Massachusetts native scored 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting and had five rebounds. In the first meeting, Layman had a career high 20 points. The Terrapins will be looking to extend their ACC long winning streak to three games against the Cavaliers on Sunday.
Aside from Miami, the Cavaliers have been arguably the biggest surprise in the ACC. Virginia comes in at 6-3 in the conference and a blowout win against Clemson on Thursday. Despite having a strong record in the ACC, the Cavaliers have been a model of inconsistency. While they have upended the likes of N.C. State and North Carolina, the Wahoos have fallen to Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers have won five of their last six games. They are led by swingman Joe Harris who is averaging 15.6 ppg. Virginia is a team that averages 63.2 ppg which ranks 272nd in the country. They also don’t rebound the ball very well.
Keys to the game
1.) Win the battle on the boards
Virginia is one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation while the Terrapins are the absolute best at 42.8 rpg. Maryland has five players that average at least four boards per game and hold an advantage on the boards against most teams. Cavaliers forward Akil Mitchell averages over nine boards per game but is only one of three players that average over four rebounds per contest.
2. You guessed it: turnovers
It wouldn’t be a Maryland basketball game if turnovers weren’t a major sticking point. In many of their games this season, the Terrapins have committed double-digit turnovers. In Thursday’s narrow win, the same held true as Maryland turned the ball over 15 times against Virginia Tech. If the Terrapins can actually keep the turnovers in the single digits, they might have an easy victory against a solid Virginia squad.