Spread: maryland by 5.5 (about what I thought it would be)
On Thursday, the Hokies kick off a three week stretch where they play four out of five ACC games on the road. Tech must find a way to steal two of these four games, and defend the Cassell against miami, to stay in the ACC race. But this game in College Park may be the toughest of the four, at least on paper.
Expect the terps to come out on Thursday with everything they have. They are coming off a tough loss to #7 villanova. maryland led the wildcats by 12 with less than 10 minutes to play, but a 19-0 villanova run sank the terps. maryland will likely have bad intentions, as VT did after their blown lead at Chapel Hill. Also, the terps are 1-2 in ACC play and cannot afford to fall to 0-2 at home. That’s a sure recipe to playing on Thursday in the ACC Tournament.
Believe it or not, the Hokies lead the ACC in scoring margin in ACC play through Monday’s action. Tech is +35 after four ACC games (+8.8 per game). The Hokies have two double digit ACC wins, and lost both games by just three. But that’s meaningless since VT has a 2-2 ACC record and sit in the middle of the pack. Flip the uva or unc game, and Tech is in first. But close clearly doesn’t count here. It’s all about the W’s.
Expect Malcolm Delaney to have a big game. The Baltimore native has always had a chip on his shoulder since the home state terps didn’t recruit him very hard. He’ll likely have a lot of friends and family in attendance and will want to bury the terps in his last trip to maryland. But if statistics are fortune tellers, Hokie fans should hope he scored 20 points or less. Tech is 10-1 when Delaney scores 20 or less, but just 1-4 when he eclipses the 20 point mark.
Jeff Allen, another local boy from Washington, D.C., will be vital for the Hokies inside. In Tech’s last game at maryland, Jeff flicked off the fans on the way to the bench in VT’s 83-73 loss and was suspended for the next game (ended up being at uva, which has been another house of horrors for him). Stay classy, Jeff. Let’s go out in style.
The home teams have controlled this series since VT joined the ACC. Each team is 3-1 on their respective home floor. Tech’s lone win in College Park came in 2007-08 when Delaney, Allen, and Bell were freshmen (VT 69, md 65 – Recap). That was the infamous Dorenzo Hudson puke on the court game where Tech overcame an early 10-0 deficit. maryland’s only win in the Cassell came last year, a 104-100 double overtime win in a game that started several hours late because a beer truck ran over a water main (you can’t make stuff like that up.
maryland will head to Blacksburg on February 15th.
- All-time: maryland 27-8
- In ACC play: 4-4 (md 3-1 in ACC play)
- Streak: maryland – 2 (VT had won 3 in a row before that)
|Guard||11 Green – 6-4||1 Bowie – 6-2|
|Guard||23 Delaney – 6-3||12 Stoglin – 6-1|
|Wing/Guard||1 Bell – 6-7||14 Mosley – 6-4|
|Forward||0 Allen – 6-7||33 Gregory – 6-7|
|Forward/Center||14 Davila – 6-8||20 Williams – 6-10|
Much like VT, maryland has had the same four starters all season. The only change has been on the wing. Senior wing man Cliff Tucker, the terps’ second leading scorer, started the first 11 games. After their loss to boston college, they have gone with a smaller, three guard lineup. Freshman Terrell Stoglin has started the last four games, but this has not impacted Tucker’s minutes at all, he still plays 25-29 minutes per game.
The terps, as always, spread their minutes out a lot. Jordan Williams is the only terp playing more than 27 mpg. The bench goes three or four deep. Tucker is the only player that produces much off the bench.
|Scorer||Delaney – 18.6||Williams – 18.1|
|Rebounder||Allen – 9.3||Williams – 12.2|
|Assists||Delaney – 4.4||Bowie – 3.8|
|Steals||Green – 2.0||Tucker/Mosley – 1.2|
|Blocks||Bell – 1.3||Gregory – 1.8|
INSIDE THE turtle’s shell:
If you haven’t seen the terps play this year, you’ll barely recognize them. Gone are three major starters from the maryland team that went 13-3 last year and tied duke for the regular season title. Gone are ACC Player of the Year Greasy Face-quez (a Niemo arm-curl victim), guard Erick Hayes, and forward Landon Milbourne. Those three represented their top three scorers a year ago.
While maryland is certainly rebuilding this year, they are still pretty darn good. They have six losses but those defeat include current #4 duke, #5 pittsburgh, #7 villanova, and #23 illinois. They also lost to temple, who was ranked much of the year to date, and boston college.
If you look at ACC statistics, you’d think the terps should be near the top of the standings. Check out where maryland ranks in the ACC in some key stats (these are for all games, not just ACC contests):
- #2 in scoring offense
- #5 in scoring defense
- #2 in FG%
- #2 in FG% defense
- #1 in the nation in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession)
- #1 in offensive rebounds
- #3 in blocks
- #1 in assists
- #5 in steals
- #4 in turnover margin
maryland also boasts the ACC’s player of the midseason, sophomore big man Jordan Williams:
- #4 in scoring
- #1 in rebounds (by 2.6 per game)
- #1 in FG%
- 15 double-doubles in 17 games, including 11 in a row!
So how have they lost six games and fallen to 1-2 in the ACC? Easy, they don’t shoot three-pointers or free throws well at all. The terps are dead last in threes made per game at 4.2 (they shoot 33% – second worst in the league) and dead last in free throw percentage at 63% (313th in the nation of 345 teams).
In maryland’s six losses, they have gotten absolutely nothing from behind the arc. They are 18/84 (21%) in those six defeats. That’s an average of just three makes per game.
Free throws are Williams’s Achilles heel – he hits just 52% (he hits 56% of his field goals). There is the dilemma – you don’t want to give Jordan an easy bucket, especially since he’s likely just going to make 1/2 from the line, but Tech cannot afford to foul inside with their lack of depth. It will be up to guards to waste fouls inside… and if all else fails, send in the goon! (Prince Parker)
HO-KEYS TO WINNING:
- You Can’t Stop Williams, You Can Only Hope to Contain Him: Jordan is going to get his. He’s averaging 25 ppg and 13 rebounds in their last three losses (the Malcolm Delaney Jinx?). The key is to not let him impact the Hokies game, too. In other words, if Tech becomes so worried about him and he draws a lot of fouls, that’s going to really limit what Tech can do if Allen, Bell, and/or Davila are on the bench. At least make him work for his buckets. I really like Davila’s post-up defense in man-to-man, but assuming Tech goes zone a lot since maryland isn’t an outside shooting team, VT will really have to put a body on Williams to keep him off the glass and watch the back door feeds or alley-oops.
- Limit the Others: Like I said, Jordan is going to stuff the stat sheet. Tech needs to limit the rest of the terps. Cliff Tucker is averaging just 6 ppg in their last four losses and is 10/34 from the field. Terrell Stoglin, the new starter at guard, is just 5/28 from the field in the last three games and has just 11 points total (he’s averaging 9.7 ppg on the season).
- Dominate Behind the Arc: The terps have an advantage inside with Williams and should get more offensive rebounds as a result. Both teams are similar in terms of turnovers and turnover margin, so VT can’t expect to make up points there. So Tech has to get more points out of the possessions they have. The Hokies have been red hot from three-point range in the last week. Tech was 19/40 from three-point range against unc and wake. Tech needs to win the three-point battle to make up for their deficiencies on the boards. If maryland is hot from deep, or the Hokies aren’t making any, it will be tough for VT to win.
- Protect the Ball: maryland will press after almost every make or dead ball. They’ll use a full court man, which is more about delaying you from getting in your offense and draining the shot clock, or they’ll go with a full court trap aimed at creating turnovers. Both teams average around 14 turnovers per game, and cause around 17. If Tech can avoid struggles with the press that will give them a big advantage and limit run-outs for the terps. maryland has just one real threat – Williams. The rest are just very good athletes who play hard. Force them to beat you in the half court.
- Make Your Luck: The first four things above VT can help control. This one they only partly can – win the free throw battle. While there is no such thing as ‘free throw defense’, Tech’s opponents have combined to shoot just 60% from the line on the season. That’s the second lowest percentage in the nation. Considering VT is facing the 313th ‘best’ free throw shooting team in the nation Thursday, you don’t expect the terps to shoot their lights out from the line. But the Hokies must capitalize on this. While unc was an abysmal 7/17 from the line, VT was just 8/15 (plus two missed front ends of one-and-ones). Think that impacted the outcome? The Hokies knock’em down from the charity stripe, and hope the terps are their usual cold selves.
- Urgency: maryland will have an urgency on Thursday. They don’t want to fall to 1-3 in the ACC, or 0-2 at home. Tech needs that same urgency and pay maryland back for that 104-100 2 OT loss at the Cassell last year. A win would give the Hokies another RPI top 100 win (although maryland is just #91). And it would put VT in the upper half of the league with a much needed road win. The Hokies need the same fever to win this game the terps will have.
Look out, terps, The Weekend Warrior, Niemo, and DuffHokie are headed to College Park Thursday!
Note: Due to the fact I hate maryland and everything about them, I’m not posting boring facts other than that my Mom (and Malcolm Delaney) are from the old line state.