Where and When: Gary Williams Court at the Comcast Center, College Park, Md.; 2:00
Where to Watch: ACC "Network", so check your local listings; will also be available on ESPN3.com (blackout) and theACC.com
Line: Vegas: Virginia -3.5 KenPom: Virginia by 6, 24% chance of Maryland victory
- Senior Day. Maryland will be honoring three seniors, most notably Sean Mosley and Berend Weijs. The third, Jon Dillard, is a walk-on and Mark Turgeon says he won't start the game, which isn't really protocol for Senior Day, but then Maryland probably can't afford to go down early. The Terrapins have a poor recent history with Senior Days: they dropped it to Virginia last year by 14, and have lost three of the last four. The Greivis Vasquez game against Duke is a pretty big caveat, but otherwise it's been nothing but pain: three years ago it was a painful two-point loss to Wake Forest, and then of course there was the Senior Day Massacre, during which Maryland gave up a huge lead and allowed 48 second half points to Clemson, losing by 3. Hopefully this one will be more fun.
- Terrell Stoglin: slumping. Yep, it's official now. The ACC's leading scorer and probably Maryland's best player, Stoglin has been painful to watch in the past few weeks, averaging 17 ppg (which is okay) on 19-69 shooting, which is 27% (and that's not okay). Mark Turgeon says he's been resting Stoglin in practice, which is a good plan; I'd guess that Stoglin is starting to get worn down, given that he's been playing upwards of 30 minutes a game and asked to carry the team during that stretch. One of his worst performances of the year, a 14-point game on 4-17 shooting, came against this same Virginia team a few weeks ago. Maryland needs better if they're going to pull off the upset.
- Virginia: also slumping. The Cavs have lost two straight and four of their last six. (The only wins came over Virginia Tech by two and ... uh, Maryland.) They're starting to enter desperation mode, which means ...
- Bubble mania! Virginia, long considered to be a stone cold lock to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, is suddenly in a bit of trouble. A lot would have to still have to go wrong for the Hoos to miss the tourney, but a loss to Maryland would be a pretty terrible result for them and make their ACC Tournament extremely nervy. The Terrapins, for their part, could really use a nice win like this to bolster their NIT resumé.
- Injuries. The Cavs are still without center Assane Sene, who hasn't played since mid-January, and they might also be without freshman wing Malcolm Brogdon, who missed the last game against Florida St. Combined with the mid-season transfers of James Johnson and K.T. Harrell, the Hoos are missing a lot of depth.
The Opponent (An Overview): I've always called Virginia, and similar teams, a rich man's mid-major, as I'm an ACC purist and dislike the slow-it-down tactics employed by Tony Bennett. (If they miss the tourney, I consider it karmic retribution for playing ugly.) Virginia is pretty much what you'd expect: ridiculously tight defensively, moderately efficient offensively, and very, very slow. They rely heavily on Mike Scott, who single-handedly killed the Terrapins in the first half of the first contest between these two, with dangerous guards playing complementary roles. As far as pace goes: it used to be a situation where Virginia did it as a matter of choice, but now it's become a matter of necessity. They're without four players they had at the beginning of the year, and at this point they can't run any more than seven deep, and one of those seven is little-used wing Paul Jesperson.
Expected Starting Fives:
|Terrell Stoglin (So., 6-0)||Jontel Evans (Jr., 5-11)|
|Nick Faust (Fr., 6-6)||Sammy Zeglinski (Sr., 6-1)|
|Sean Mosley (Sr., 6-4)||Joe Harris (So., 6-6)|
|James Padgett (Jr., 6-8)||Akil Mitchell (So., 6-8)|
|Berend Weijs (Sr., 6-10)||Mike Scott (Sr., 6-8)|
I'd be really surprised to see any changes to that five. Weijs will start because it's Senior Day, and the other four are probably pretty well set in stone. I imagine Stoglin will match with Zeglinski and Faust with Evans. The biggest question to me is actually what Maryland does against Scott, because he was deadly when left on his own in the first matchup. Some token double-team pressure may help, but that's a dangerous game.
Well, what did you expect? Virginia shoots well and takes care of the ball; Maryland doesn't. Maryland rebounds well and gets to the line; Virginia doesn't.
Matchup to Watch: One of the underrated aspects of the last game was the job Jontel Evans did defensively, particularly in the second half. I expect that to be a major aspect of today's game, too, so the big battle to watch may be Jontel Evans vs. Terrell Stoglin. When Stoglin was matched with Sammy Zeglinski in the first half of the last game, he dropped 14 points in the first half and Maryland was tied. A lot changed in the second, but one of those things was Evans taking Stoglin and holding him scoreless. Of course, UVA ran away with the second half.
Prediction: This is perhaps the game all season I've most wanted Maryland to win, and not because I need them to win it but because the combination of winning the last game of the season and knocking Virginia onto the bubble would create a high that lasts for days. Weeks, maybe. Sadly, I don't see it. I also don't see the Cavs running Maryland out of the house, though; something like a 62-58 score line seems about right. For the second time in two games, I'd be very tempted to put down money on that line, if it stays there leading up to the game.