Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
When: 7:00 pm
Where to Watch: CSN for locals; will look for streams later in the day
Line: Vegas: Maryland -4 KenPom: Terps by 6
- Once again, all but a must-win. Like every other game from here on out, with the possible exception of the Duke game on Feb. 2, this is very nearly a must-win. A loss won't signal the end of Maryland's NCAA tournament hopes in and of itself, but it a) will seriously hurt their chances, and b) will evaporate almost any hope that they could win enough to get into the tourney.
- "Different tempos" is a massive understatement. Maryland is always one of the fastest-paced teams in the ACC. This year, they're third, just behind UNC and Duke, and they're also in the top 40 nationally. UVA? Uh, try the slowest team in the conference and the sixth-slowest paced team in the country. Yeah, it's about to get discontinuous up in here.
- Life without Mike Scott. UVA is still adapting to Tony Bennett's wild-and-crazy (read: ultra-conservative) slow-it-down pace, but at least they had senior forward and unheralded star Mike Scott as a rock to keep everyone grounded. He's now out for the year; in his absence, they've gone 1-3, though they're yet to have been blown out. This might be the first time since his injury that they've fully wrapped their minds around it.
- Hey, this is Gary Williams' 700th game at Maryland! Congrats, Gary. Everyone loves you. Sometimes it's tough love, but it's love nonetheless.
- Injuries. As mentioned above, UVA's without Scott. Maryland is still healthy.
Keys in Cliches
- Limit UVA's outside shot, if possible. A lot of this is up to UVA, sure, but it's also up to Maryland to play stellar lock-down defense. Look, UVA goes four-guards and their only post player hardly ever played before Scott's injury. They're also the second-best team in the conference at 3pt %. If they win this game, they do it with 3s.
- Force turnovers. This goes with the above note, I suppose, as in solid perimeter defense. But Virginia can control and slow down games by holding onto the ball for 25 seconds before running a play (think of that Notre Dame "burn"). Maryland, obviously, wants this game to have as many possessions as possible, so that's bad. UVA can do it mostly thanks to their stellar ball control, which is third best in the ACC. Forcing turnovers not only takes away scoring opportunities (good) and gives Maryland easy scoring opportunities, it also lengthens the game. Triple Yahtzee!
- I was going to say "win the boards," but that's too easy. Instead, make shots from the perimeter. Look, if they can't beat a team of 6-4 guards on the glass, this one's already lost. But one thing that is far from sure: can they carry over that good shooting performance from the Clemson game? For as good as they are from outside, UVA is pretty bad at defending the three themselves. I'm expecting them to double-down on Jordan Williams to prevent easy buckets, in turn giving a few open looks on the perimeter. If the Terps can't follow through on #1, they'll need these ones bad.
|Terrell Stoglin (Fr., 6-0)||1||Jontel Evans (So., 5-11)|
|Adrian Bowie (Sr., 6-2)||2||Mustapha Farrakhan (Sr., 6-4)|
|Sean Mosley (Jr., 6-4)||3||K.T. Harrell (Fr., 6-5)|
|Dino Gregory (Sr., 6-7)||4||Joe Harris (Fr., 6-6)|
|Jordan Williams (So., 6-10)||5||Assane Sene (Jr., 7-0)|
Some will say that I should've put Haukur Palsson in the starting lineup, and maybe I should've. But because I don't know who will start and Sean Mosley plays more minutes, I made an executive decision and went with Sean. It might not be accurate, but it will be more representative of the actual situation.
Anyway, Maryland isn't playing with a large height disadvantage, so...yay? You'll also note I went with 1, 2, etc., instead of PG, SG, etc. After all, 6-6 freshman Joe Harris isn't exactly a power forward.
Prediction: I like Maryland here, but I'm far from confident. UVA is all but destined to have a hot streak that gets them close, probably during the second half, while Maryland loses confidence in themselves and starts to implode. It's destiny. That said, as long as Maryland doesn't give up 15 three-pointers or so, I'm thinking they can withstand. Terps 71-61.