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"First" Look at Maryland-Virginia: Better Late than Never

Okay, so Duke was awful, but its time to move on, and move on quickly. Maryland will take on Virginia in the Comcastle on Monday, a result, of course, of the earlier postponement thanks to the increasingly annoying Snowpacalypse.

In the first writeup on UVA, which I will borrow heavily from, I called this a "trap game", and said that looking ahead to Duke would be the biggest potential problem. With that disaster out of the way, my biggest concern still has to do with how they handle the Duke game: not, obviously, looking ahead to it, but rather rebounding from it.

We all know that this Maryland team (and last year's) is pretty resilient, and hasn't let a loss get to them and kick off a losing streak. But they've never lost this badly in a game that was so important, and they've never had to turn around this quickly. It's difficult to predict how any team would react.

Of course, UVA is also coming off a game, a game which they lost against their biggest rival, so Maryland isn't at a significant disadvantage. It's simply another variable to throw in the mix.

Other than that, not a lot has changed for the Cavaliers since the last time we took a look at them.

They lost at Virginia Tech yesterday night thanks to horrible 3 point shooting and an amazing last-minute performance by the Hokies' Jeff Allen, but a road game at VT is a game they're supposed to lose. Sylven Landesburg is still a legitimate PoY contender, and Virginia still has constantly improving firepower to back him up, especially Mike Scott and Mustapha Farrakhan. Despite Scott's and Farrakhan's presence, though, its still Landesburg's team and his team only; he's the only player in the ACC that takes more of his team's shots than our very own Greivis Vasquez.

After Jordan Williams' disappointing performance against Duke (except for those two minutes when he turned into a vacuum cleaner on the boards), he'll be happy to know that he'll have the advantage inside. Mike Scott is just 6-8 and will probably match up with Landon Milbourne; Williams will go against Jerome Meyinsse, who possesses no height advantage over J-Dub (just 6-9) and is remarkably unproductive (just 5 and 4 a game). When he goes out, he'll be replaced by the equally average Will Sherrill (3 and 3 in 17 minutes) or talented but overall disappointing Assane Sene, After seeing Duke's massive inside advantage, this should be a welcome sight.

In many ways, Virginia resembles a slightly less talented Maryland squad. Landesburg is their Vasquez; Scott is their Milbourne; Farrakhan and Jeff Jones are their Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie. They rely heavily on their star, rarely turn the ball over or get to the line, are a good 3-point shooting team but take few of them, and struggle to some extent with rebounding. They aren't as experienced, though, and they lack the inside presence that Jordan Williams provides Maryland. They bring little to the table that Maryland would have a difficult time countering unless they're particularly hot or Maryland's particularly cold.

For what its worth, Virginia gets most of their points from Landesburg, and he can get points any number of ways. He's a truly versatile scorer that can get buckets off the bounce or on a pull-up jumper. Defending him is a task that will likely fall to Sean Mosley, probably the team's best on-ball defender. That's a good thing, because Landesburg will have the ball a lot.

As a team, two things mark Virginia's play aside from Landesburg: limiting turnovers (they're 13th in the country and 1st in the ACC in TO%) and solid, unspectacular shooting. They hit nearly 40% from downtown on the year and a solid 75% clip from the stripe. Lately, though, they've struggled with the three ball, shooting lower than 32% four times in the past six games. They lost all four games. Like Duke, shutting down the 3 isn't the only key, but they seem to struggle when they can't hit it.

Ultimately, this game is a minor test of Maryland's mettle. It's a game they should win and probably would win under normal circumstances. Given that UVA is under the same conditions, but also on the road, I'm liking Maryland's odds right now.

For more on the Cavs, I'd suggest checking out our first First Look, the one we linked above. Preview with keys, etc. and poll coming tomorrow morn.