2007-08 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Maryland

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2007-08 VT Roster

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Virginia Tech (9-6, 0-1 ACC) vs Maryland (10-6, 0-1 ACC)

Saturday, January 12, 2008, 2:30

TV: RLF Split (click
here for station listing
)


Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech begins the ACC portion of their schedule on Saturday afternoon
when they go against the Maryland Terrapins. The Hokies (9-6, 0-1) played one ACC
game in back in December, losing by two to Wake Forest on the road. Now they’ll
close the regular season with 15 straight ACC games.

This Saturday’s test comes against a Maryland (10-6, 0-1) team that has had
its good moments and bad moments. The Terrapins are playing their best
basketball of the season right now, winning four consecutive games. However,
they had a tough stretch earlier in the season where they lost to some teams
they had no business losing to.

At one point Maryland lost four out of five games. They were a 85-76 setback
to VCU in the Verizon Center, an 81-78 loss to Boston College at home, a 61-55
loss to Ohio at home, and finally a 67-59 setback at the hands of American at
home. Three home losses in a row isn’t what Terps fans are used to.

However, they’ve been playing their best basketball of the season recently,
winning their last four games. They are playing as well defensively as any team
in the ACC.


Maryland Starting Lineup

Position

Name

Height

Weight

Year

PPG

RPG

APG

G

Greivis Vasquez

6-6

190

So.

16.9

5.2

6.1

G

Cliff Tucker

6-6

190

Fr.

4.6

2.6

1.4

F

Landon Milbourne

6-7

207

So.

7.4

4

0.7

F

James Gist

6-9

235

Sr.

14.6

7.7

1.2

F

Bambale Osby

6-8

250

Sr.

10.4

5.8

0.7

Maryland might play this game without starting sophomore guard Eric Hayes, who
is averaging 11 points and 5.4 assists per game. Hayes has a sprained ankle and
is very questionable for Saturday’s game. He missed the Holy Cross game on
Tuesday night.

If Hayes can’t go, Cliff Tucker will step into the starting role. Tucker has
developed into a solid sixth man for Maryland over the course of the season.

Greivis Vasquez handles the basketball for Maryland, and he is an all-around
good basketball player. He leads the Terps in scoring and assists, and is third
in rebounding. He seems a bit tall for a point guard, but he does a good job
handling the ball. Vasquez likes to get in the lane, and he goes to the free
throw line a lot. He has attempted 79 free throws this year, which is second on
the team. He converts free throws at an 82.3% ratio.

It
will be important to keep Vasquez out of the lane. Tech needs to limit Maryland
to passing around the perimeter, and using their length to stop post feeds.
Maryland runs a flex offense and they like to get the ball to their two big guys
on the inside. Vasquez isn’t particularly fast or quick, but he uses his size
and length well to get to the basket.

James Gist is a four year starter and a very good ACC player. He leads
Maryland in rebounding and he’s a very skilled inside scorer. He’s a very
athletic player. Part of the reason Maryland is so effective on defense is
because of Gist and Bambale Osby, the other inside player. They both rank in the
top four in the ACC in blocked shots. Osby can also be an effective scorer at
times, but he is inconsistent on the offensive end.

One thing that is holding the Terps back this year is their depth. They don’t
have a very effective bench, and with Hayes likely out and Tucker in the
starting lineup, it gets even thinner. Braxton Dupree (6-8, 260), Adrian Bowie
(6-2, 190), Jerome Burney (6-9, 222), Dino Gregory (6-7, 227) and Shane Walker
(6-10, 211) are all freshmen. Dave Neal (6-7, 263, Jr.) provides toughness,
however he is more of a mid-major talent and he’s just coming off an injury.

Maryland also has no legit three-point shooter after losing Mike Jones from
last year’s squad. Vasquez and Hayes are guys who can hit the open shot, but
neither are in the class of A.D. Vassallo, and Hayes might not even play.
Vasquez is shooting 35.1% on 97 attempts this year, but if you throw out Hayes,
no one else has more than 29 attempts, and that player with 29 is starting power
forward James Gist, who has only made 7 of his attempts.

Sixth man Cliff Tucker is shooting 38.9%, but he has only attempted 18
three-pointers. Tech might pack it in and dare the Terps to try to beat them
from the outside.

Here’s a look at how the teams compare statistically.


VT vs. Maryland

Category


VT

Maryland

Advantage


Stat

ACC Rank

Stat

ACC Rank

FG%

45.2%

9

44.3%

11

VT

FG % Defense

38.7%

4

36.6%

1

MD

3-Pt. %

34.9%

9

32.3%

10

VT

3-Pt. % Defense

33.2%

9

31%

4

MD

FT%

69.7%

7

69.9%

6

MD

Rebounding Margin

+4.7

5

+3.5

6

VT

Turnover Margin

+0.4

7

-0.88

9

VT

Assist/TO Ratio

0.95

9

0.96

8

MD

Scoring Offense

67.3

12

71.9

8

MD

Scoring Defense

58.5

1

64.1

6

VT

Average

7.2

6.9

MD

That’s about as even as you can get. Both teams use their length and athleticism
to play excellent defense. Tech has the top scoring defense in the ACC, while
Maryland has the top field goal defense. Neither team is very effective
offensively, and although Maryland scores a little more, the Hokies shoot it a
bit better.

Both teams are above average rebounding teams, their free throw percentage is
basically the same, and their assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly identical.

What’s amazing is that Maryland has gotten even better defensively since last
year, even with the loss of swingman D.J. Strawberry, one of the best defenders
in the ACC. Also, let’s go ahead and give Virginia Tech credit. When you are
first in the ACC in scoring defense while playing just six home games and
playing six freshmen in the 10-man rotation, that’s a pretty good job of
coaching by Seth Greenberg.

When you compare the starting lineups in this game, the first thing you
notice is the length. If Eric Hayes (6-4) doesn’t start, every one of Maryland’s
starters will be 6-6 or taller. Four of Virginia Tech’s five starters are 6-6 or
taller. With so much length in the passing game, as well as two teams that
struggle offensively and don’t shoot the outside shot particularly well, it
looks like this one is going to be low scoring.

Last season’s Tech-Maryland game was 67-64 Hokies, in overtime. Don’t
anticipate too much more offense than that this year. In fact, it could be less.

TSL Blogs: Maryland
Prediction
, by bourbonstreet

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