Hokies travel to Maryland

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Time: 8pm
TV: The ACC Network (affiliate list)

Maryland defeated Virginia Tech 80-60 in Cassell Coliseum back on February 1.  The Hokies have been a more competitive basketball team since then, and they hope to return the favor in the Comcast Center tonight.

Ben Emelogu scored 21 points in that first meeting with Maryland.  Unfortunately, Emelogu is likely out for tonight’s game, along with Adam Smith and Cadarian Raines.  That means the Hokies will have to have a sharp defensive effort tonight to stand a chance to knock off the Terps.

This will be the final ACC meeting between Virginia Tech and Maryland, barring another encounter in this year’s ACC Tournament, and the two schools have played some great games over the last decade.

Maryland has a talented team, though they’ve gone just 15-14 overall, and currently sit 7-9 in the ACC.  They desperately need to beat Virginia Tech tonight.  If they don’t, they risk finishing the regular season with a losing record, because they host UVA this weekend.

Maryland’s starting lineup looked like this in their last game:

G Seth Allen (6-1, 190, So.): 13.1 ppg, 50 assists
G Dez Wells (6-5, 215, Jr.): 14.8 ppg, 63 assists, 23 blocks, 29 steals
G Nick Faust (6-6, 205, Jr.): 9.8 ppg, 57 assists, 34 steals
F Jake Layman (6-8, 205, So.): 11.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 25 blocks, 31 steals
F Charles Mitchell (6-8, 260, So.): 6.9 ppg, 6.7 rpb

The Terps don’t start any seniors.  In fact, the only senior on their roster is walk-on John Auslander, who rarely plays.  Tech must also watch out for Evan Smotrycz (6-9, 230, r-Jr.), a skilled big man who can shoot the ball with range.  He is averaging 11 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, and he has started 27 games for the Terps this year, though he did not start their most recent contest.

I normally use TeamRankings.com for offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, but that site was down this morning at the time I was writing this article.  Instead, I used  Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive and defensive ratings.

Offensive efficiency: Maryland #111, Virginia Tech #280
Defensive efficiency: Maryland #31, Virginia Tech #83

As you can see, the Terps have been more efficient on both ends of the court than their record would indicate, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.  They are in the top third of college basketball on offense, and in the top 10% on the defensive end.  Here’s a look at Maryland’s last three losses:

Clemson: 77-73, 2 OT
Syracuse: 57-55
Duke: 69-67

The Terps have been close,and they’ve even been very close against two elite level teams.  However, they haven’t been able to get over the hump.

Virginia Tech will have to continue with the usual strategy of keeping the game low-scoring.  To win, they’ll need to keep it close and execute well on the final possessions.  They’ve been able to keep it close in recent games, but their execution down the stretch has left something to be desired.

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