Who: Maryland (16-14, 8-9 ACC) vs. No. 5 Virginia (25-5, 16-1)
Where: Comcast Center.
TV: CBS (Marv Albert, play-by-play; Steve Kerr, analyst).
DMV radio: 105.7 FM, 570 AM, 980 AM, 1300 AM.
Coaches: Terps — Mark Turgeon (third season, 58-42). Cavaliers – Tony Bennett (fifth season, 101-58).
Kenpom rating: Maryland 50th, Virginia 2nd.
RPI: Maryland 83rd, Virginia 9th.
And so we arrive at the final regular season game of the farewell tour, the last time the “ACC” logo will be applied at Comcast Center, six decades of history coming to a close. For the Maryland men’s basketball team, its ACC swan song has almost become an afterthought as a taxing, frustrating 2013-14 season nears its end. Instead, Sunday’s finale becomes a chance to better its resume, not for the NCAA tournament — which is out of reach barring an ACC tournament title — but for the National Invitational Tournament. Right now, the Terrapins are a bubble team for that secondary bracket, but a win over the No. 5 Cavaliers would almost certainly vault them into the field, depending on what else happens in mid-major tournaments across the country. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have already wrapped up the No. 1 seed in next week’s ACC tournament and are playing to keep their 13-game winning streak alive.
1) Patience with the pack line? The last time these two teams faced, a 61-53 Virginia win at John Paul Jones Arena — which also happened to be the only ACC home game the Cavaliers have won by single digits at home – Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon began running a three-man weave along the three-point line just so his players wouldn’t shoot within 10 seconds. It was a method to control the impatience of quick triggers like point guard Seth Allen and guard Nick Faust, but ideally the Terps would just run their normal offense without having to burn 15 seconds lazily handing off along the perimeter.
2) Will Maryland go small? Though forward Charles Mitchell avoided a suspension following his scream-heavy incident during Tuesday’s win over Virginia Tech, Maryland’s best chance to succeed might be by going small. If the Terps roll with a lineup that places forward Evan Smotrycz at center, this might prove a defensively liability inside but it would also force Virginia’s Akil Mitchell to chase around a smaller wing like Faust or Jake Layman.
3) How will the Cavaliers come out? Virginia last played on March 1, scoring its biggest victory of the season in a 75-56 home bludgeoning of Syracuse, but comes to Comcast Center on a week-long break. How will the Cavaliers fare without much to play for, in an opposing building, on long rest? Coach Tony Bennett has created such a disciplined group that few chinks in the armor should show, but the Terps need to capitalize on anything they’re given, like open layups.
1: Loss in 2014 for Virginia – to Duke at Duke on Jan. 13.
4: Average margin of defeat for the Terps over their past four losses to Virginia, Duke, Syracuse and Clemson.
15.1: Offensive rebounding percentage for Virginia center Mike Tobey, which ranks 17th nationally. He is the first player Maryland will face in the top 20, though the Terps can counter with Mitchell, who is 10th in offensive rebounding rate and 77th in defensive rebounding rate.
“You can look at it like, ‘Oh, why do I have to go through this,’ or you can look at it like, ‘What an honor for me to coach in the last ACC season.’ Give ACC credit for giving us Virginia our last home game instead of being on the road. The last day of the season to have this game, I feel honored to be a part of it. Feel honored to be a part of the move to the Big Ten, too. That’s the way you have to approach it.” — Turgeon.
“It means a lot to us. The legacy of the ACC and Maryland together, it means everything. That’s one of the reasons why I came here. It means everything to us, to the fan base, to the coaches, to Maryland basketball, to Coach Turgeon. We want to go out with a bang.” — Dez Wells.
THE TERPS TUNE OF TODAY
“More Than a Feeling” by Boston.