Where and When: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Ga.; 2:30
Where to Watch: ACC Network, so check the affiliate list; will also be available on ESPN3 (blackout) and theACC.com (regardless of location, I believe)
Line: Vegas: Maryland -1 KenPom: Georgia Tech by 2, 43% chance of Maryland victory
- Hitting an upswing? I used that phrase in the preview and there was some contention about whether or not it was true. Sure, Maryland hasn't had a winning streak since early January, but they have won 2 of the last 3, including a huge victory against Miami that just might've been the corner-turning win they were looking for. Insert Major League "winning streak" clip here.
- Glen Rice Jr. Indefinitely suspended, and still suspended for today's game. GT's leading scorer, Rice was inconsistent but dangerous. In his absence, there have been mixed results: first a solid showing against Virginia Tech, and then an outing against Clemson as miserable as I've seen all year. If those are the real Yellow Jackets without Rice in the side, this one will be easier than expected.
- History. Usually this is a negative bullet point, but this one's nicer: Maryland has won 11 of the last 12 against Georgia Tech, including ten straight in the regular season. The only game of that stretch that they lost was the infamous Derrick Favors shot clock violation game in the ACC Tournament back in 2010.
- Season sweep. Maryland, by virtue of a pretty rough ACC schedule, has failed to garner a sweep of any opponent. After beating Georgia Tech in College Park earlier in the year, the Terrapins have a shot at securing a season sweep of the Jackets. I know, it's only Georgia Tech, but hey: any port in a storm, all that jazz.
The Opponent (An Overview): The Jackets are one of the ACC's cellar-dwellers, tied with Wake Forest for 10th place ahead of only Boston College. They've predictably struggled through Brian Gregory's first year, and things have only been made more difficult with the suspension of GRJ. The team lacks a true point guard, and while there's some talent (especially on the perimeter) the team is largely inconsistent, especially offensively. More consistent has actually been the frontcourt; although they lack depth, the pair of sophomore starters have been GT's best performers in the last several weeks. They're a well-oiled unit defensively, but offensively are liable to put up goose eggs if their wings aren't hitting. They're 169th in KenPom, 159th in Sagarin, and 186th in RPI. They run at one of the slowest tempos in the league, quicker than only Virginia and Virginia Tech, and with the loss of Rice go about eight deep.
Expected Starting Fives:
|Terrell Stoglin (So., 6-0)||Brandon Reed (So., 6-3)|
|Nick Faust (Fr., 6-6)||Mfon Udofia (Jr., 6-2)|
|Sean Mosley (Sr., 6-4)||Jason Morris (So., 6-5)|
|James Padgett (Jr., 6-8)||Kammeon Holsley (So., 6-8)|
|Ashton Pankey (Fr., 6-9)||Daniel Miller (So., 6-11)|
The frontcourt, as always, is subject to change: I'd think Padgett would get the nod after hitting the game-winner last time out, and I'd assume Turgeon would opt for Pankey over Weijs as well. This was the starting five last time out and it seemed to fair okay. Tech's five should be more or less set.
Stoglin will match up with Reed, I guess, because Udofia is the most dangerous player on the perimeter and Morris second. I'd assume Faust matches up with Udofia (try to neutralize him through the size advantage) and Mosley on Morris. It'll be interesting to see how much burn Alex Len gets, as he did pretty well against Miami and could be useful in containing the lanky Miller.
And these numbers were with GRJ. You'd have to assume Maryland would be pretty big favorites based on the numbers. It's one of the first times you can look at the graph and see Maryland with a sizable advantage.
Matchup to Watch: Two of the quietest and most underrated bigs in the conference? Yes please. James Padgett vs. Kammeon Holsley. Padgett has been growing up for Maryland, with that big bucket against Miami only part of what he's been showing lately on the offensive end. Holsley, meanwhile, has been the only Georgia Tech player to be a consistent scorer over the final two weeks. I can't wait for the grit.
Prediction: I'm sure, if pressed to, I could conceive of a way for Maryland to lose this game. (Terrell Stoglin goes 0-13, Nick Faust has 7 turnovers, and Mfon Udofia comes out of nowhere for a 20-point game, or something like that.) But it would take a lot of unexpected stuff. If Maryland plays to their level and stays focused, assuming Georgia Tech plays like they've been playing, this is a Terps win. I don't think too many points will be scored (slow tempo, good GT defense and awful GT offense), probably somewhere around 66-55, but MD wraps up their 7th ACC win and gets back to .500 in the conference.