The Maryland Terrapins (12-7, 2-3 ACC) travel to the Virginia Cavaliers (11-8, 2-3) to play at John Paul Jones Arena at 7 PM in a crucial ACC clash for both teams. They both come off wins against foes over the weekend (UVA with Georgia Tech and Maryland with Clemson). For Maryland, they need the win to get back to .500 and to climb back into the ACC race and position themselves for the NCAA tournament. If Maryland is a tournament team, this is a team they need to beat even if it is on the road.
How will Maryland do against the sharp shooting Cavs?
The Cavs have definitely begun to form their identity under 2nd year coach Tony Bennett. They are a team that strokes the three and plays quality defense. They are ranked third in the ACC in 3 point percentage at 38.8%. While the Cavs have missed senior Mike Scott (season ending ankle surgery), they have moved forward and have a four guard starting lineup. They have been led by Mustapha Farrakhan averaging 13 points a game and Jontell Evans. The younger Terps will be challenged on the perimeter and need to do well at the JPJ to limit their production.
How will the Terps offense flow against the defense of the Cavs?
With the four guard lineup, they can be a bit small but they have Assane Sene a 7 footer to patrol the lane. They are able to switch on defenders so it will be important for the Terps to use their length to counteract the speed and quickness of the Cavs. However, Maryland needs to continue to feed Jordan Williams on the inside because there are times throughout the year where he will go ten to twelve possessions without touching the ball. The Terps need to feed the big man.
What can be expected of the Terp freshmen?
All three of the Terps getting solid minutes (Terrell Stoglin, Pe’Shon Howard, and Hauker Palsson) have shown marked improvement but need to continue in their growth. Stoglin and Howard need to continue maturing into quality backcourt players and learning when to distribute and when to take over. They will have their hands full with Farrakhan and Evans. Palsson needs to continue providing energy off the bench and doing the dirty work getting rebounds and blocks.
Will the streak continue?
The streak I refer to is the double-double streak of Jordan Williams which now stands at 13. I think he will get number 14 tonight as they have the height advantage inside.
Can Maryland pick up another road win?
This is the all important question because the winner climbs back to .500 in ACC play. Both coaches are very good at their team imitating their personalites. UVA needs to shoot the three and play tough D at home and the Terps need to play with passion. It is also a battle of conflicting styles as the Cavs are more perimeter focused and the Terps are led by Jordan Williams. My opinion is that the Terps will pull out a tough victory 72-65.