Maryland basketball vs. Virginia: Previewing the game

February 9, 2013

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (17-6, 5-5 ACC) vs. Virginia (16-6, 6-3).

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: Comcast Center.

TV: WTTG-5, WBFF-45.

DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 570 AM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.

Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (Second season, 34-21). Cavaliers – Tony Bennett (Fourth season, 69-47)

Pomeroy ratings: Terps 56th, Cavs 23rd.

RPI: Terps 62nd, Cavs 100th.

THE SCRIPT

Following Thursday’s 60-55 win at Virginia Tech, which did far more for Maryland’s confidence than it did for its NCAA tournament resume, the Terrapins return home to host upstart Virginia, winners of five of its past six, including home wins over Florida State and North Carolina State. Like Maryland, however, the Cavaliers have just one road win this season – at Virginia Tech. Virginia’s NCAA tournament resume is simply baffling – the Cavs have lost at George Mason, at home to Delaware and at a neutral location to Old Dominion, one of the nation’s worst teams this season. Yet they’ve beaten North Carolina, North Carolina State and Florida State, and also won at Wisconsin. Hosting Virginia won’t be nearly as big a challenge as visiting Charlottesville on March 10, but the Terps are looking to win three straight for the first time since ACC play began.

THE QUESTIONS

1. Keep the streak alive? Much was written about Maryland’s extremely winnable February stretch, and so far the Terps have taken care of business. With home games against Virginia and Duke sandwiching a six-day break, a win over the Cavs would do plenty for Maryland’s confidence heading into one of the season’s biggest games. Stringing together a three-game winning streak would help alleviate the sourness brought on during the team’s January swoon.

2. Work inside: Virginia’s pack-line defense has wreaked havoc on opponents all season, with the Cavaliers sagging deep into the post and forcing bad shots late in the clock by aggressively denying the passing lanes. Obviously, this clashes with Maryland’s desired playing style, which involves working through Alex Len, James Padgett, Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell. If the Terps can’t get the ball inside, they’ll have to rely on an utterly enigmatic outside shooting game.

3. Endure another slugfest? Barring some unforeseen scoring miracle, this game should hover around the 50s. Maryland survived a road test at Virginia Tech with late free throws, but can the Terps do it again at home against Virginia? The Cavaliers are 14-1 at home but only average on the road. Like in Blacksburg, the Terps can’t afford a major letdown.

THE STATS

1, 2: Maryland and Virginia’s ACC rank in opponents’ field goal percentage, respectively (36.2 and 37)

11.7, 2, 3: James Padgett’s minutes, points and rebounds per game in Maryland’s first seven ACC games.

27.3, 8.7, 6: Padgett’s minutes, points and rebounds per game in three games since.

THE QUOTES

“I felt like we gained confidence at Florida State. Was a bummer the way we lost the game, but we played better. We weren’t really jumping for joy in the locker room the other night. Missed a lot of free throws, good defensively at the end. We didn’t play our best game, which is encouraging because we came out on top. I think it gave us a shot in the arm going forward. We needed it. Obviously that’s an understatement. We needed it. Guys had great energy today in practice. I think they’re ready to go.” — Turgeon.

“Can’t get caught up in the way they want to play. You just have to play the way you want to play. It’s a good chance coming here. They want a grinder. They want it in the 50s. We don’t care. We just want to win. We don’t care of it’s the 50s or the 60s. We just want to come out on top. They are playing a lot faster, and they had a lot of points against Clemson. Really shot the ball well. Little different team than they were a couple weeks ago. They’ve done a nice job adjusting quickly to the injury and the sickness.” — Turgeon.

THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY

Literally anything by Tony Bennett.

THE POLL

Vote in the WaPo’s new sports forums.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Matt Bonesteel | February 8, 2013