The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (14-10, 6-5 ACC) vs Virginia Cavaliers (19-5, 10-1 ACC)
The Time: 9 PM ET
The Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Virginia
TV/Radio: ESPNU, 105.7 FM, ESPN3
The Backstory: The Maryland Terrapins quickly recovered from their loss to North Carolina on the road 75-63. The Terps got some revenge on Florida State after being blown out by twenty points earlier in the season, winning 83-71 at Comcast Center Saturday afternoon. Seth Allen tied his career-high at halftime with 21, then finished the game up with 32 points overall.
Allen hit seven three pointers in that contest, and obviously played his best game of the season when the Terps needed it most. Dez Wells helped continue the scoring with 15 points of his own and reached six assists for the third time this season. Wells has now scored 15 points in seven of his last eight outings, and the entire team is playing solid basketball.
They’ll need every ounce of goodwill if they have any intention of beating the Virginia Cavaliers, though. The Cavaliers are off to their best season in decades, having lost one ACC game the entire year (at Duke). Virginia just got done obliterating Georgia Tech 64-45 on the road, and have won 10 of their last 11 games now. Malcolm Brogdon supplied the ammo for the Cavaliers, notching 14 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
The Cavaliers do one thing spectacularly well: defend. They’re curently holding opponents to 41% shooting or worse, and have the requisite length and effort to beat anyone. Virginia is second in the nation at points allowed (55.6), and haven’t had an opponent score 70 points on them since December 30th of last year (an 87-52 loss Tennessee).
Can the Terps offense get it going against the Cavaliers?
Give me a key matchup: Seth Allen VS London Perrantes
I was spot on in saying the Seth Allen vs Marcus Paige battle was going to be a big one, and I hate to put the onus on him again, but Allen against Perrantes will be just as huge. For those who don’t know, Perrantes is Virginia’s freshman point guard, hailing all the way from Los Angeles, California. Perrantes is statistically horrible, averaging 4.3 points and 3.6 assists per game while only shooting 30% from the floor. So why, then, is he important?
Because Seth Allen should dominate this matchup. We get flashes of Allen being an elite guard in the ACC, like his 32 point performance against Florida State. What we don’t get is that same effort consistently on short rest. Maryland is going to need to hit a lot of three pointers to beat a team that’s clearly better than them, and it’ll come from Allen.
Allen has the best matchup of any player, and is more athletic, quicker, and a much better shooter than Perrantes. If the Terps are going to exploit one person on Virginia’s deep team, it has to come from here. Allen scores 15-20 points and shoots 48% or better from the field, I’ll go ahead and guarantee the Terps win this game. But if he doesn’t reach those numbers, forget it.
Overrated aspect of Virginia? Their depth.
Virginia is considered one of the more deep teams in college basketball, and I’m calling bunk on that. As the season has progressed, the Cavaliers have minute allotment has started to stagnate. They go seven-deep (Brogdon, Perrantes, Harris, Mitchell Tobey, Anderson, Gill), and no one else play a ton of minutes after that.
Better still (for Maryland), I only think five of those players are actually legitimate threats. Both Mike Tobey and London Perrantes are weak links in that fence, and Maryland should certainly focus in on those two if they want matchups to exploit. The Terps are going to have to get some guys in foul trouble and get their big time players off the court should the expect a win.
Getting Mitchell off the court might be the biggest challenge. Mitchell is a matchup problem for the Terps, and he’s been playing a lot of minutes at a high level lately. He has the potential to blow up against the Maryland big men, and they’re going to have to look out for him on the boards.
Vegas has the Terps at +11 underdogs, and Virginia is riding hot. If this were a home game, I’d predict Maryland to win. But it isn’t. It’s a road game in a tough place to play against a very tough team. Maryland’s going to struggle with Virginia, who will likely move to a plodding pace, and since they don’t execute well on the road it’s going to end up a loss. 65-59 UVA. Weak