Where: Cassel Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
Line: KenPom: Maryland by 1. Vegas: VT by 1. Finally a differential.
Notes: Virginia Tech is definitely on the bubble and needs one or two more wins to get back into the tournament picture. Desperate teams at home usually come with their best. To make matters worse, Tech hasn't lost at Cassel in the ACC all year. Oh, and it's Senior Day.
Keys in Cliches:
- Stay sharp offensively. VT is a quiet but great defensive team. They have no killer feature on defense, no ridiculous pressure or low eFG% or anything like that, but they are solid in just about every category. They stifle most of their opponents due to a combination of all major defensive factors. When they can keep scores low, the game plays into their poor-shooting hands.
- Limit easy points. Malcolm Delaney will get his points. It would be nice, however, if Maryland could at least make him work for them, he might get a few less. Delaney is the best in the ACC at getting to the line, so this one won't be easy, but VT is one of the worst shooting teams in the ACC. Keep them from getting easy points at the line and make them hit jumpers, and the dynamic of the game shifts.
- Allow 3 Pointers and Force Turnovers - Two things that VT doesn't do very often: take threes and turn the ball over. They're one of the worst in the first, and one of the best in the second. Feel free to tease some trigger-happy VT guards into launching threes, and as long as they aren't wide open and in rhythm, it's a pretty low-percentage shot. At the same time, if they get hot, it wouldn't be a bad idea to review the strategy. On the second note, one major reason their defensive strategy works is their ability to avoid empty possessions of their own. That translates back into easy points that are hard to come by in the halfcourt game and keeps Tech from getting to the line.
Is it just me, or have all these just bled together?
Prediction: We actually have different scores from the two lines, so we have some conflicting sources - that's good. Makes me seem more original.
I'm afraid of VT's desperation and the fact that they're good at home, but they responded poorly to their first real challenge, and Maryland provides the second one. They're reeling, and this Maryland team just seems to have it, whatever it may be. And I'll be there, so hopefully we'll have a good luck charm.
I say Maryland by 7, though Malcolm Delaney will prove troublesome.