I am not sure many people would have predicted this to be such a big game in upper quarter of the ACC standings when the schedule came out, but sure enough, Maryland and Virginia Tech meet today at Cassell Coliseum in a huge game for both schools. We all know whats at stake for Maryland. Win today, and the game against Duke on Wednesday night becomes an epic game for a share of the lead of the ACC. A loss today, and it is still important, but really it takes a little of the hype off the Duke game. For VT, a loss today would be three in a row (Duke and the disastrous loss at BC). Though Virginia Tech is sitting at 21-6 overall and 8-5 in the ACC, there is still some discussion on whether they belong in the big dance due to their weak non-conference schedule, and ACC schedule for that matter. They lost at UNC, and they only have to face Duke, Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech once. (Oh How I love ACC Basketball expansion, but I will save that for a day in the summer when there isn’t much to write about). They are 14-0 at home, and if they can beat the Terps today, it will be a big step toward getting them in NCAA Tournament. A loss here, and it may be panic time for the Hokies.
Baltimore native, Malcom Delaney, leads VT and the ACC in scoring at 20.2 per game for all games, and 21.8 in conference games. He is the key for them. If he struggles, and it doesn’t happen often as he can score from outside or driving to the basket and getting to the foul line, Tech could be in trouble. Dorenzon Hudson has really come on this year and has scored in double figures in 16 of his last 18 games, including a 41 point outing against Seton Hall in December. He is averaging 14 points on the season. Now we come to Jeff Allen. He can really be a force, or he can be a non-factor. I don’t know him from Adam, but there are times where it looks as if though he is not giving everything he has on the court. And there are times where it looks like he belongs in the NBA. The key for him will be staying out of foul trouble. I haven’t seen every Tech game this year, but the majority of the games I have seen, he has picked up two quick fouls in almost every game. He can rebound and is leading the team with 6.9 per game. If the Terps can get him in foul trouble, that will be a tremendous advantage for the Terps. We all know how good it would be to remove the leading rebounder!
VT is averaging 71.6 points per game for the season, and allowing 62.9 per game. In ACC action they are at about 68 points per game in both categories. They are strong from the line a 72% but struggle from the field at only 41%. Here is our favorite stat: from three they are hitting on only 30%, or dead last in the ACC. With the way teams drain three’s against Maryland, I would expect that number to be closer to 40% today.
What are the keys for today? For the Terps, it will be composure. They play a little differently on the road, and Cassell is a tough place. It kind of reminds me of a mini Cole Field House. Again, rebounding will be key ( I don’t think I need to go into great detail there) and a balanced team attack. When Greivis Vasquez has some help, the Terps are as tough as anyone to meet. If they are one dimensional, you had better hope the General has his A game. Jordan Williams has become more and more important each game, and if Eric Hayes can add 12-15 points, the Terps will be in a good position to win.
For Virginia Tech the key will be keeping Jeff Allen in the game. VT misses shots. That means more opportunities for offensive rebounds, and if Jeff Allen wants to really step up today, he could have a big game. Delaney is consistent, and my guess is Mosley will be guarding on and off with Vasquez. He will get his share of points, the biggest question is, will he be able to get his teammates involved?
I am looking forward to this game. It is a tough road environment, and I am hoping to see a little better game from the Terps today. Although, I sound kind of greedy asking for more when they sit at 3-3 on the road in the ACC and 5-3 overall, but it would be nice to see a game played a little more like some of the outings at Comcast. What do you think is going to happen today?