The Teams: Maryland Terrapins 19-8 (7-7) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 14-12 (4-10)
The Time: 8:00 p.m.
The Place: McCamish Pavilion – Atlanta, Georgia
TV/Radio: ACC Network (Check local listings), 105.7 FM/980 AM
With another “must-win” contest this evening against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets the Maryland Terrapins need to come with the type of effort we saw against the Clemson Tigers and not the display they put on versus Boston College the last time they left the Comcast Center. It’s pretty safe to say that whatever remaining hopes the Terrapins have with regard to making the tournament would be dashed with a loss to the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech will be able to match the Terrapins size as they have three players standing 6’8″ or taller who average over 20 minutes per game for the Yellow Jackets. This is something that could play into the Terps favor however as a larger front line should lead to less of a chance that Georgia Tech decides to double team the post, a tactic that Alex Len has struggled against of late. Len has stated he likes going against larger centers and he will get to do just that tonight, hopefully it leads to an effort closer to Len’s performance against Duke rather than the Boston College Eagles or Clemson Tigers where he was largely M.I.A.
I would look for Mark Turgeon to press more this evening like he did last Saturday against Clemson as turning up the defensive pressure worked out for Maryland as they pulled away in the second half. With the amount of depth on the Terps roster I am honestly slightly surprised we have not seen more of this full court pressure by Maryland to this point as Turgeon certainly has the horses to guard full court for 40 minutes if he so chooses. While Turgeon choosing to bring pressure in the full court for the entire game is highly unlikely I absolutely think that will be a strategy that is employed for stretches in tonight’s game.
Keys To Victory:
1) Feed Me More
Alex Len needs to figure out what type of player he wants to be. We have seen three completely different versions of the Terps center from the upset win over Duke to his “benching” for a period during the second half against Clemson. Clearly, when he is motivated to play, Len can take over a game and put the Terps on his back. Unfortunately, that type of effort hasn’t been there night in and night out for this team. Maryland needs to get Len going early tonight to ensure that he is invested in the game enough to be that dominating force on the inside he has shown the potential to be. If Len can get 12-15 good looks at the bucket tonight by attacking the rim and not settling for fade away jumpers and hook shots the Terps should be in good shape in a game that they clearly need to have.
2) Clean The Glass
The Terps have essentially dominated the boards all season long largely in part to their great size across the front line. Were this trend to continue tonight and the Terrapins can severely limit the amount of offensive rebounds, and subsequent second chance opportunities, the Yellow Jackets have they would be setting themselves up for success. Alex Len being “motivated” to play comes in to play here as well. Maryland cannot depend on freshmen Shaq Cleare and Charles Mitchell to shoulder the load on the boards, it must be a total team effort by the Terps to dominate the rebounding category as they have for much of the season.
3) Get Off To A Fast Start
Slow starts have been a thorn in the side of this Terrapins team in the majority of the games they have lost this season, especially those losses that have come on the road. This is another reason why it would behoove the Terps to utilize the full court press more this evening so that they can try and force Georgia Tech into early turnovers and, in turn, easy baskets for Maryland to get them going on offense. At 14-12 overall and 4-10 in league play the Yellow Jackets don’t have much to play for in terms of post-season hopes outside of a potential NIT bid were they to finish over.500 on the season. If Maryland is able to get out to an early lead there stands a more than good chance that this Georgia Tech team will just roll over like they appeared to do in the second half of their last two games against UVA and UNC, making it even more important for the Terps to put Georgia Tech away early tonight.
Prediction: I expect for the Terps to come out playing like a team that knows they have their backs against the wall. Look for Alex Len to respond in a big way from his “benching” in the Clemson game and I expect Charles Mitchell to have a strong homecoming as he travels back to his home state as a Terrapin for the first time.
Maryland: 76 – Georgia Tech 63
And just for fun since the Terps are in ATL for a business trip….
Welcome to Atlanta where the Terrapins play,
And we jam on them Yellow Jackets like every day.
Big shots, Len blocks see the Turtles roamin’
Cause the Terps won’t stop till the flight in the mornin’