Who: Maryland (12-9, 4-4 ACC) at Virginia Tech (8-12, 1-7)
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va.
TV: ACC Network (Tim Brant, play-by-play; Dan Bonner, analyst)
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM, 980 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (third season, 54-37). Hokies – James Johnson (second season, 21-31).
KenPom rating: Maryland 74th, Virginia Tech 202nd.
RPI: Maryland 81st, Virginia Tech 221st.
With four road games over its next five, the Maryland men’s basketball team needs to head into Tuesday’s matchup at North Carolina feeling good about itself, and what better way for a tune-up than against last-place Virginia Tech? Granted, the Terrapins have endured their fair share of road struggles under Coach Mark Turgeon, but the Hokies have struggled even more mightily this season. Maryland badly needed Wednesday night’s 74-71 over Miami, no matter in what fashion, and can make it two straight victories against a team it has beaten in each of the past three meetings.
1) No letdown? The Terps are riding high after beating Miami, and why not? Dez Wells’s game-winning three-pointer helped them survive a 10-point collapse over the final two minutes, so instead of having to spend another two days demoralized and broken, they at least have some momentum and confidence heading into the Virginia Tech game. The Hokies, meanwhile, have lost seven straight games, most recently in a miserable rout at Boston College, and will be desperate for something positive once they return home to Cassell Coliseum.
“We’re desperate, too,” forward Evan Smotrycz said. “We’re desperate for a road win. Any game in the ACC is tough. We’re not going to expect to go over there and roll over them.”
2) Keep the turnover rate low? The Hokies are terrible at coaxing steals. Terrible. They force a turnover just 13.2 percent of the time, worse than anyone in Division I except Quinnipiac, and get steals less than 5 percent of the time, which is worst mark in the nation. Of course, Maryland commits turnovers on nearly one-fifth of its possessions and if it catches a nasty bout of sloppiness, it could be a long afternoon for the Terps.
3) Make them drive? Virginia Tech also happens to rank in the bottom 40 teams nationally in two-point percentage (44.1 percent) and free throw percentage (65.3 percent), but are 34th in three-point percentage (38.6 percent). Simply put, the Hokies don’t do much well offensively besides shoot deep balls, and when they get inside – or reach the foul line – they struggle to succeed there, too. It may sound counter-intuitive, but if the Terps can smother Virginia Tech’s guards along the perimeter and force them to drive, they should be in fine shape, provided the post players offer adequate help and Maryland doesn’t entirely part the seas for layups.
4.9: Virginia Tech’s steal percentage, the worst in the nation.
3: Years since the Terps last shot better than 48 percent in consecutive league games (Feb. 20-23, 2011, against North Carolina State and Florida State).
16.4: Points per road game by Wells this season, a team-high.
“There’s no way they can be more desperate than we are. We want to win. Our will to win has to be as great as theirs or more.” – Turgeon.
“I looked at it after the game. What’s today? Friday? We played Wednesday? So I looked at it Wednesday night, didn’t look at it too much on Thursday.” – Wells, on watching replays of his three-pointer against the Hurricanes.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“Easy Money” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.