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Heading into Saturday’s game, Virginia Tech and Maryland are heading in opposite directions or so it seems. After Virginia Tech opened up with a 7-0 record, they have now dropped 4 of their last 6. Maryland, on the other hand, dropped its first game, to a then ranked #3 Kentucky team, and has bounced back to win 11 in a row. That streak can only be taken seriously to a degree because the only notable team they have played during that stretch is George Mason.
Maryland Terrapins At A Glance
- Current record: 12-1
- 2011-12 record: 17-15 (6-10 ACC)
- 2012-13 RPI: 69 (VT is 143)
- Series: Maryland leads 28-10
- Last Meeting: Maryland 73, Virginia Tech 69 (January 28, 2012)
- Head Coach: Mark Turgeon (279-175 overall, 29-16 in 1 1/2 years at Maryland)
- TV: 12:00 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network
This Maryland team has had to bounce back from losing a prolific scorer, Terrell Stoglin, someone who carried the team when it came to scoring, to being a team that brings a more balanced attack. This approach has proven to be in their best interest as they are very close to the wins already this year that they achieved last year.
This Maryland team overall boasts a 76 ppg average as a team which is 47th overall in the country. Maryland rebounds the ball very well with an average of 43 rebounds per contest, which is good enough for 6th in the nation. Besides those two stats the other things that is very apparent is that this team shares the ball very well with 18.5 assists per game which ranks them 5th and this leads to easy baskets as they average 50% in FG percentage which has them at 11th.
A name to look out for in Saturday’s contest with Maryland will be Alex Len. The sophomore, from the Ukraine, is a big man at 7’1”, a capable scorer and someone who rebounds exceptionally well averaging 8 rebounds per game. A big man in the paint has been a real problem for Virginia Tech so far this year. BYU’s Brandon Davies played only 25 minutes in last Saturday’s blowout game, yet scored 17 points, pulled down 4 rebounds and collected 4 assists. With the lack of defensive rotation from Virginia Tech’s big men, I would think that Alex Len may have a career day against the Hokies if they cannot find a way to improve on their defense.
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Another Maryland sophomore that will probably help to decide the outcome against the Hokies will be Dez Wells. The Xavier transfer is a capable scorer averaging 12.3 points per game. The sophomore is a hybrid G/F at 6’5” who can also rebound the basketball, averaging 4.7 rebounds per game.
The third key player to keep an eye out for will be Pe’Shon Howard. Howard is not a great scorer, only averaging 3.9 points per game, but he will try to make a difference by trying to get everyone involved. The junior from Los Angeles, CA will look to share the ball and comes into the game against the Hokies averaging 5.8 assists per game. In one contest this year Howard notched 13 assists in one game. Howard is also almost automatic from the free throw line going 15/17 from the charity stripe this year. The Maryland junior will look to have the ball in his hands at the end of the game if the contest is close.
Besides the three players already mentioned, Maryland will look to utilize a very deep supporting cast of role players. Maryland is a big team that will play 5 guys at 6’8” or more against the Hokies. All of these guys average 15 minutes or more. With the loss of Marhall Woods, the Hokies will see 3 guys at 6’8” or more, that will play minutes, which are currently under scholarship.
Maryland shoots the ball decent from 3 point range, shooting 34% from long range. However, look for Maryland to pound the ball inside against the undersized Hokie team. I would expect to see Maryland’s big men very much involved in this game.
What will Virginia Tech have to do to win this game? The Hokies will have to play mistake free basketball, Erick Green will have to play better than he did against BYU, the role players will have to step up and contribute, and the defensive effort and rotation will have to improve. Coach James Johnson recently stated that this Hokies team isn’t as good as their 7-0 record that they started out with, but they also aren’t as bad as the last 6 games that they’ve played either. Saturday against Maryland will be a great way to prove both of those statements true.
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