The Teams: Maryland Terrapins 20-10 (8-9) vs Virginia Cavaliers 20-10 (10-7)
The Time: 6:00 PM
The Place: John Paul Jones Arena Charlottesville, Virginia
TV/Radio: ESPNU (Check local listings), 105.7 FM/980 AM
The Maryland Terrapins close their regular season on the road against their geographical rival in the Virginia Cavaliers. Playing away from the Comcast Center has been a struggle for the Terrapins this season as they have only won 2 games (at Wake Forest and at Virginia Tech) in league play away from College Park. While the book on Maryland’s potential run to the NCAA Tournament isn’t completely shut yet the Terps need to accumulate as many wins in the next week as possible to give themselves a chance at being selected. As of this morning the Terrapins are on the wrong side of the bubble conversation and while a win over UVA wouldn’t push them over the top it would certainly be a great jumping off point as next weeks ACC Tournament rapidly approaches.
This game is significantly important for both teams as UVA has certainly not helped themselves as of late with losses to Boston College and Florida State since their upset win over Duke. Neither the Cavs or the Terps can feel very good about their postseason destination at this point and a win by either team today should help with their confidence heading into the win or go home, or in the case of the Terrapins and Cavaliers…win or go to the NIT, scenario in Greensboro, NC. While I am not convinced going to the NIT would be a terrible thing for this Terrapins team it is clearly not the prize that every player and coach want come next Sunday’s selection show on CBS.
Keys To Victory:
1) Own the paint – The Terrapins will have a distinct size advantage this evening and the big men, especially Alex Len, need to take advantage of this better than they did in their first meeting. UVA doubled the post the majority of the first match up in College Park and it got the Terrapins out of sync on offense immediately. When the double team comes the Maryland big men need to stay calm and realize that they have a teammate who is open due to the added pressure in the post. Re-posting strong will be extremely important this evening as when the double team comes and the Terps bigs kick the ball back out to the wing they need to get their rear end into the UVA defender and push him back towards the basket so that they can receive the ball in a position to score on subsequent passes. There is really no reason why the front line of Len, Padgett, Cleare and Mitchell cannot have an effective performance tonight and help lead their team to a road win they desperately need.
2) Don’t let Joe Harris beat you – The junior guard for the Cavaliers has been a thorn in the side of many an ACC program this season. Averaging 17.1 PPG Harris leads the Cavs in scoring and is shooting an impressive 49% from the field. In the meeting between the Terrapins and Cavaliers in February Harris scored 22 points while attempting only eight shots…he made seven of them. Between Harris and one time Maryland commitment Justin Anderson the Cavaliers have plenty of firepower to give the opposition fits. The pair combined for 39 of UVA’s 80 points in their first meeting and a similar result today would be a back breaker for the Terrapins. Harris is a tough guard at 6’6″ as he can beat you inside or outside, he’s shooting 45% from three on the year, making him one of the more versatile scorers in the conference. I would expect for Mark Turgeon to throw a combination of Dez Wells and Nick Faust on Harris to try and slow him down and to continue to rotate players on to him if those two don’t show capable of handling the job.
Maryland plays like a team with everything to lose and finally get over the hump on the road. Alex Len plays inspired basketball for the first time since the Duke game and the Terps get a much needed victory to finish .500 in ACC play.
Terrapins – 74 Cavaliers – 68