What: Maryland hosts 9-4 Virginia Tech in the first ACC game of the year.
When and Where: 12:00 p.m., Comcast Center.
Where to Watch: ESPN3, ACC Network.
Line: Terps -12.
Notes / Storylines
ACC Season. It may be a bit awkward, with Maryland having one foot out the door, but the Terps will begin conference play today against the Hokies. From here on out, it's just in-conference opponents until (hopefully) tournament time.
Charles Mitchell. As we predicted, the freshman got the start against IUPUI, scoring seven points with five rebounds. Turgeon went all-out with the ten-man rotation, so Mitchell only played 20 minutes, but expect him to start in his first ACC game as well.
The other newcomers. Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare, Jake Layman, Logan Aronhalt and Dez Wells will all be making their ACC debuts along with Mitchell. For guys like Aronhalt and Wells, it likely won't be an issue, but you never know how freshman will react to the tougher environment. Fortunately, Virginia Tech is a nice starting point (and down the road, Miami is a great starting point for a road game).
Last season's result. Mark Turgeon has only faced Virginia Tech once as a Maryland coach, defeating them 73-69 last year. In that game, Terrell Stoglin scored 28, Sean Mosley scored 15, and Ashton Pankey scored eight.
New coach. The game will not only be different on Maryland's side, but markedly so for Virginia Tech, as well. Gone is Seth Greenberg, and in comes James Johnson, a former assistant who runs a fast-paced attack.
The Opponent (An Overview)
The new coach and new system worked out well for Virginia Tech to start out the season, but they've faltered since. After a 7-0 start that included wins over Iowa and a ranked Oklahoma State team, the Hokies have lost four out of six, losing to Georgia Southern and getting blown out by Colorado State and BYU.
So at 9-4, Virginia Tech is not looking nearly as strong as they did a month ago. Leading scorer Erick Green returns, however, and he's taken his game to another level under coach Johnson. Averaging 24.4 points per game, he tops the conference in seven different categories and is in the top five in numerous others. That 24.4 mark is good for second in the nation, and he's also second in the country in made free throws, with 94. On top of that, Green leads the team in assists (4.6) and steals (1.6) per game.
Equally impressive has been the versatile small forward Jarell Eddie. Eddie, 6'7", is averaging 14.8 points per game, and leads the team in rebounds (6.8 per game), blocks (1.1 per game) and three-pointers made (28).
At shooting guard is sophomore Robert Brown, averaging 10.6 points per game and coming off 13 points against BYU. At power forward is C.J. Barksdale (5.2 points, 4.4 rebounds per game) and at center is Cadarian Raines (6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds) but these three are essentially space-fillers for the two stars to shine.
Expected Starting Fives:
|Maryland||Virginia Tech Hokies|
|Pe`Shon Howard (Jr., 6-2)||Erick Green (Sr., 6-3)|
|Dez Wells (So., 6-5)||Robert Brown (So. 6-5)|
|Nick Faust (So., 6-6)||Jarell Eddie (Jr., 6-7)|
|Charles Mitchell (Fr., 6-8)||C.J. Barksdale (So, 6-8)|
|Alex Len (So., 7-1)||Cadarian Raines (Jr., 6-9)|
Matchup to Watch:
Howard vs. Green. Green is the second-best scorer in the country, and Howard will need to have his A-game on defensively to stop him. Without Green, Tech doesn't stand a chance.
Maryland 83, Virginia Tech 72. Green puts up 22, but Wells and Len each put up 20 as the game isn't as close as the final score dictates.