Preview is here. Game tips at 6:00 on ESPNU, with Carter Blackburn and Jay Williams on the call. And yes, I'll say it: I like Jay Williams as an analyst. Go on, be horrified.
Anyway, this is perhaps the most intrigued I've been by a game since N.C. State.Every game for Mark Turgeon is a tactical battle at this point, at least until he can get his preferred style - passive defense, wide-bodied rebounders, shooters on offense - sufficiently bedded in. But it's especially true in a game like this; Virginia's not only a pretty even match, but they're a prime example of style of play taking precedence over talent: they slow it down, play a passive but disciplined defense themselves, and are all about halfcourt execution. That system is a traditional Maryland anathema, especially because the one thing they really can't do is execute in the halfcourt. Which makes it an interesting test for Turgeon, particularly on whether or not to press, which is something he's embraced of late - reluctantly, I think, but embraced nonetheless. Or does he stick to his guns and try to get his guys to play their game, so far as they actually have one at all, in the halfcourt - which would seem counterintuitive, but oddly enough it's where teams have had most of their success against Virginia, with their last three losses all coming in 50s-possession games.
Random, Baseless Prediction: Absolutely no reason to expect this, but Alex Len shows up. 14 points and 12 boards in what's very likely to be his last regular season game as a Maryland Terrapin.
Prediction: Virginia comfortably outplayed Maryland in College Park the first time around, but they're just starting to wobble a bit - they've lost two in a row, and four of their last six. There's really no reason to expect Maryland to play well here, especially given that it's a road game, but for some inexplicable reason I do. The Terps have more or less given up their at-large hopes; Virginia hasn't, but they're hanging onto the bubble by a thread after their mini-collapse of late. It's time for the Terps to tease us back in, and that means an odd 57-53 win to the good guys.