The Terps will face Virginia Tech late tonight, as they try to improve to .500 in ACC play in what has been a very funky year.
Before we get to analyzing the Hokies and what they bring to the table, let’s take a brief second to examine comments made in the media recently by star guard Malcolm Delaney and head nitwit Seth Greenberg.
"“They say anything that comes to mind. They might have the worst fans ever,” said senior Malcolm Delaney, a Baltimore native. “Duke is loud because the gym is so small, but Maryland might have the worst fans. … They say a lot of disrespectful stuff. Even when they were recruiting me, I went to a game where they played Duke and they were reckless. So I’m not surprised by anything they say.”"
"“You talk about nasty environments, buying a ticket doesn’t give you a right to be abusive,” he said Tuesday. “And you would hope that, quite honestly, the people at Maryland would do their job. Plain and simple. They need to do their job. Just because you buy a ticket to a game doesn’t give you a right to be abusive. And if someone’s abusive to our guys, then those people should be removed if it gets personal. That’s the stance I’ll take.”"
The Delaney stuff doesn’t bother me so much. I’m sure the fans will give it to him regardless, but his “worst fans ever” is a comment that will leave most Maryland fans saying “Aw, shucks. We try our best.”
Greenberg, on the other hand, makes me angry. He talks about abusive? Last year, Virginia Tech said the most offensive things I have ever heard at a major sporting event, when they chanted “Green Card!” and “USA! USA! USA!” every time Greivis Vasquez had the ball. It still boils my blood just thinking about it. So Seth Greenberg can shove it, honestly.
Now, on to the game.
Virginia Tech is 11-5 (2-2 in ACC) this year, and is coming off their own thrashing of Wake Forest. In terms of quality opponents, they beat Penn State (it’s weird, but they’re turning into a quality team), Florida State, and Oklahoma State. They got blown out by Kansas State and UNLV, and lost close ones to Purdue, Virginia, and North Caroli
KenPom has the Hokies ranked 28th in the country (fourth in the ACC), while the Terps are ranked 14th. (Again, as a sidenote, Maryland is the fifth most unlucky team out of 345 Division I teams according to KenPom). Their projected record is 20-9 (10-6 in ACC), and they have the 15th ranked defense in the nation. Maryland, however, has the top ranked defense.
Delaney, a 6’3″ senior shooting guard from Baltimore, is nearly the Hokies’ entire offense. After averaging 20.2 points per game last year, his average this year is down to 18.6. He plays 93.1% of their minutes, good for sixth in the nation. He isn’t having a very effective year offensively, ranking 28th in the ACC in offensive rating (behind Adrian Bowie and Jordan Williams), but is seventh in the conference in true shooting percentage. He has a tendency to take wild three pointers in double coverage, and likes to take over games, whether he has the ability to or not. You can argue that he should do this because he has very little help around him, but his last second shot against North Carolina last week was dreadful.
Delaney’s main counterpart is Jeff Allen, a 6’7″ senior forward from DC. Allen’s points per game average has ranged from 11.8 to 13.7 in his four years as a Hokie, and he’s averaging a career high 9.3 rebounds per game this year. He also has seven double-doubles on the year. Allen gets more than a quarter of possible defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor, and ranks 26th in the nation in that category (defensive rebounding percentage).
The only other Hokie averaging double-digit points this year is senior guard Dorenzo Hudson. Hudson is an ineffective shooter who turns over the ball a lot and plays an inordinate amount of minutes for someone who doesn’t really do anything. Even his best trait involves not doing anything – he ranks 127th in the nation in least fouls committed per 40 minutes.
Sophomore guard Erick Green is averaging 9.4 points per game, and is also a very poor shooter. Green does not turn the ball over often, however, and is one of the best at forcing steals in the country. He is also tops on the team in offensive rating (yes, beating out Delaney).
6’8″ Victor Davila and 6’7″ Terrell Bell are the two guys that might give Maryland the most trouble – they’re big men who can shoot. They actually rank first and second on the team, respectively, in effective field goal percentage.
KenPom predicts a 68-62 Maryland win, giving the Terps a 75% chance. I’m more optimistic. I think Greenberg and Delaney’s comments will spark up the Maryland crowd to unprecedented non-Duke/UNC heights, igniting a 79-58 Maryland victory.
Tip-off is slated for 9 PM ET, and it will be shown on ESPN2. But really, you should just go to Comcast center.
As an aside, I’ll be at the game tonight, so the recap will be up pretty late.