Maryland Terrapins-Virginia Cavaliers Preview: The Last Hurrah

USA TODAY Sports

Maryland travels to Virginia for the final regular season clash of the year.

What: The Maryland Terrapins head to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers in the ACC regular season finale.

Where + When: 6:00 at John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Virgina.

Where to Watch: ESPNU

Lines: Vegas: KenPom: Virginia by 8

Notes / Storylines

Postseason. With the loss to North Carolina, Maryland's NCAA hopes were pretty much dashed (if they weren't gone already). A win over Virginia would help, sure, but the Terrapins would have to make some serious noise in the ACC tournament to get back in a good position. Instead, the Terps could be jockeying for position in the NIT, which isn't exactly a bad place for a team full of underclassmen to be.

Rivalry? As the extended farewell tour to the ACC continues, it's another team that we face for one of the last times - Virginia. The Terps will see them again next year, but this is one of the last conference match-ups between these two opponents.

Road woes. Maryland did manage to improve their road record in their last game away from Comcast, defeating Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. However, that was just the Terps' third road win of the season, and with a home loss to Virginia already under their belt, this could be a difficult game.

Who starts? Maryland saw Logan Aronhalt and James Padgett in the lineup for senior night, but who starts in the finale? Mark Turgeon has been going back towards bringing the freshmen off the bench, but could we see Layman, Allen, or one of the big guys inside to start it out?

Even records. Both teams enter the game 20-10 on the year, although Virginia sports a superior conference record (10-7 compared to 8-9). Finishing with a better record than the Cavaliers would be a nice end-of-season gift.

The Opponent (An Overview)

Virginia is a peculiar team at 20-10. They beat the trifecta of good Carolina schools while playing Miami close, but they've lost some really bad games. After a season-opening loss on the road against George Mason, the Cavaliers lost a home game against Delaware, and another home game in December to Old Dominion. Conference losses include defeats to Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Florida State (the latter two being Virginia's last two games) - all teams below Maryland in the conference standings.

The Cavaliers are supposedly on the right side of the bubble at the moment, but they assuredly can not afford to lose to the Terps at home. In the matchup at Comcast a month ago, Virginia won 80-69, led by an outstanding 11 three-pointers on 19 attempts. Guard Joe Harris scored 22 (three of four from deep) and Paul Jesperson hit all four of his three point attempts while Justin Anderson scored 17 with nine rebounds.

Virginia will likely start the same five - point Jontel Evans, Harris, Jesperson and Anderson at two through four, and 6'8" Akil Mitchell at center. Off the bench is fellow 6'8"er Evan Nolte, a freshman who is averaging 6.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Expected Starting Lineups

Maryland Virginia
Pe`Shon Howard (Jr., 6-3) Jontel Evans (Sr., 5-11)
Dez Wells (So., 6-5) Joe Harris (Jr., 6-6)
Nick Faust (So., 6-6) Paul Jesperson (So., 6-6)
James Padgett (Sr., 6-8) Justin Anderson (Fr., 6-6)
Alex Len (So., 7-1) Akil Mitchell (Jr., 6-8)

My guess is Turgeon goes with the experienced lineup in the last regular season game. That won't affect the playing time of the four freshmen, mind you - they will play early and often. You know what would be great? If Alex Len just decided to go out with a bang and dominate this game (and the ACC Tournament). You all know he could do it.

Prediction:

Virginia already beat Maryland in College Park, has the home-court advantage this time and has the added motivation of this game being a realistic predictor of whether or not they make the tournament. I'd love to pick a Terps win, but the Cavaliers ride, 62-58.

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