College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - The Maryland Terrapins will play their last regular season ACC game ever when they host the fifth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday at the Comcast Center.
Mark Turgeon's Terps will make the move to the Big Ten next season and could probably use the change in scenery, struggling to compete in the ACC this season with a modest 8-9 league ledger. Maryland does enter this game off a win, routing Virginia Tech last Tuesday, 64-47, but it was just the second in the last six games for the Terrapins.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers are one of the nation's most pleasant surprises, as they dominated the ACC, en route to just their second outright ACC crown in school history. Winners of 13 straight games, the Cavs moved to 16-1 in conference play with last weekend's impressive 75-56 rout of Syracuse.
Maryland owns a 106-74 advantage in the all-time series with Virginia, but the Cavaliers have won six straight matchups and are seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 61-53 win in Charlottesville on Feb. 10.
Bennett has instilled a defensive philosophy since coming to Charlottesville and this year is no different. The Cavaliers boast of the nation's best scoring defense, limiting foes to just 54.8 ppg. Opponents are shooting just .381 from the floor overall. The team has also dominated on the boards, outrebounding foes by seven caroms per game. Virginia puts up modest numbers on the offensive end at 66.2 ppg, but that has been plenty, resulting in 25 wins in 30 games this year. Guards Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris fuel the offensive attack at 12.6 and 11.3 ppg, respectively.
It was supposed to be an epic battle last weekend, but Virginia turned the ACC on its end by crushing Syracuse in a 19-point slaughter. The Cavs shot a cool 50 percent from the floor, held the Orange to a mere 35.7 percent efficiency, while outrebounding Syracuse, 39-29. Brogdon led four Cavaliers in double figures with 19 points. Akil Mitchell just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Mike Tobey and Justin Anderson finished with 11 points apiece.
The Terrapins have had some problems on the offensive end this season, shooting a mere .429 from the floor, resulting in a scoring average of just 71.0 ppg. Despite the unexceptional offensive performance overall, scoring depth comes in the form of four Terps with double-digit averages. Dez Wells headlines the group at 14.7 ppg. Fellow guard Seth Allen follows at 12.8 ppg, with Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz rounding out the quartet at 11.7 and 10.9 ppg, respectively. Ball movement has not been a strength for Maryland this season, as Wells is the team leader in assists with only 67 on the year (2.2 apg).
Maryland lost the battle on the boards (40-30), but held the Hokies to a mere .306 shooting performance in a lopsided win in College Park. The Terrapins shot just .400 from the floor, but did force Virginia Tech into 17 turnovers and buried 10 3-pointers in the win. Layman came off the bench to tally a team-high 13 points. Wells added 11 points to the cause.