Piece by Brandon Simberg
The Maryland men’s basketball team faces off against No. 4 Virginia on Wednesday night in a highly-anticipated ranked battle. Here are three things to watch for as the Terps go for the upset.
How is Maryland going to score?
Scoring against the Virginia Cavaliers is never easy. UVA is allowing only 49.2 points per game, which is second best in the country. To score on Wednesday, Maryland is going to have to utilize its size with Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith inside. Virginia is not a super deep team (their rotation is typically 7-8 players deep) so if Fernando or Smith can get any of Virginia’s front court members in foul trouble, that could swing the game.
The Terps had their best offensive performance of the season on Friday, lighting up Marshall for 104 points. They shot 56 percent from three which was also a season high. To beat Virginia, the Terps are going to have to shoot it effectively from deep, while Anthony Cowan will need to continue pushing the tempo and attacking the basket like he has of late.
How will the Terps matchup and defend?
Virginia’s Deandre Hunter is going to be a match up problem for the Terps. He is a 6’8” wing with the speed to go past the Maryland bigs like Fernando and Smith, but he is also strong enough to bully smaller defenders like Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell. My guess is Jalen Smith starts on the versatile Hunter, but lots of players will have the chance to contain the standout forward who leads Virginia in scoring.
Another interesting thing to monitor for the Terps on defense is how they defend ball screens. The Cavaliers love using side pick-and-rolls to create opportunities for their playmaking guards Ty Jerome, Kihei Clark and Kyle Guy. It is imperative that Maryland can defend this action and run Virginia off the three point line. Jerome and Guy are two of the best shooters in the ACC conference.
Can the Terps dictate the tempo?
A component of Tony Bennett’s Virginia teams has been a slow tempo. The Cavaliers are currently second to last in pace of play this season, as they love to slow it down on both ends. To counter that, Maryland needs to get out in transition. Cowan will have to push the ball, and Morsell and Fernando will need to fill lanes on the fast break to get easy buckets. If this game gets stagnant in the half court, Virginia is going to win.
Maryland will also need to try and force turnovers. The team did a good job of this against Marshall, causing 17, but Virginia only turns the ball over eight times a game.
This is clearly Maryland’s toughest opponent of the season so far, but if the Terps can utilize their size, shoot it well from deep and defend hard for 40 minutes, an upset is not out of the question.