Who: Maryland (16-6, 4-5 ACC) at Virginia Tech (11-10, 2-6).
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va.
DMV TV: WDCA-20, WNUV-54.
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 106.7 FM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (second season, 33-21). Hokies – James Johnson (first season, 11-10).
Pomeroy ratings: Terps 54th, Hokies 153rd.
RPI: Terps 69th, Hokies 150th.
Coming off a five-day break, Maryland returns to action at Virginia Tech, where the Hokies and their four-game losing streak await. The Terps blasted Wake Forest by 26 points last Saturday but are winless in four ACC road games this season. Virginia Tech suffered some late letdowns against both Miami and North Carolina recently, but led both games at halftime. Of course, the Hokies operate almost exclusively through Erick Green, the nation’s leading scorer at 25 points per game. Back on Jan. 5 in the ACC opener for both teams, Maryland won 94-71, when Jake Layman (20 points, 18 by halftime) and Seth Allen (21 points) both broke out at Comcast Center to lead the way. Green went off for 28 points and attempted 11 free throws for the Hokies, who played without forward C.J. Barksdale (disciplinary issues).
1. Survive the road? As mentioned above, traveling from College Park has been Maryland’s Achilles’ heel this season (of course, that’s without counting turnovers, point guard play and lackluster offensive execution). Four of its five losses have come on the road, but this provides a golden opportunity to score that first win. Granted, it won’t be easy. Virginia Tech is reeling but took the Tar Heels to overtime on the road last Saturday. The Hokies also have had a five-day break between games, but the Terps can’t afford a letdown to an ACC bottom-feeder at this stage.
2. Contain Green? A host of Maryland defenders figure to match up against the electric Green. Nick Faust will start at point guard and guard Green initially, but Turgeon plans to rotate Seth Allen, Pe’Shon Howard and possibly Dez Wells throughout the evening. The Terps, like they did in early January, seem content with ceding gaudy point totals to Green, provided that he work for his makes and hoists plenty of shots in the process.
3. Be physical? Alex Len and his three fellow front-court players appear to have turned a corner in recent games. James Padgett worked his way back into the starting lineup. Charles Mitchell continues to be an offensive force off the bench. Shaquille Cleare, when not in foul trouble, is a strong low-post defender. Virginia Tech will likely get physical inside against the Terps, so it’s up to these folks to respond in kind.
27: Years since the Terps last shot as well as they did against Wake Forest (67.3 percent on Saturday. On Jan. 28, 1986, they shot 73.9 percent against the Demon Deacons).
28.8: Percentage of team’s shots taken by Erick Green, highest on Virginia Tech.
16.3: Percentage of team’s shots taken by Alex Len, highest on Maryland.
“He’s good. He’s really good. You watch him on film, it’s like wow, what a year he’s having. If he gets 25 again, I hope it’s on 22 shots. He’s got to really work for them, and we have to do a better job on ball-screen defense, we have to do a better job keeping him off the foul line. If we can do those two things, and if he has 25 on 20 shots, that’ll really help us and give us a chance to win. Man is he really good.” – Turgeon on Green.
“Looking back at tape, we left some offensive rebounds, let them get some offensive rebounds in the game, but once we kind of settled in a little bit, I thought our big guys did a very good job versus all their big guys, not just Alex, who he’s a handful for anybody.” – Johnson.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons.