Virginia Tech Hokies (21-6overall, 8-5ACC)
2/27/10 4PM Cassell Coliseum Blacksburg, VA
PF: MD: 79.1. VT: 71.5 PA: MD: 66.0. VT: 62.9
Maryland is 6-3 on the road, Virginia Tech is 14-0 at home.
When you think of the toughest venues for opposing team to play at in the ACC, very rarely to you think Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, but this season its has produced no wins for visiting teams. The Hokies are in need of some home cooking after playing their way onto the tournament bubble with a shocking 20 point loss at Boston College on Wednesday. This game is a match up between two of the front runners for ACC player of the year in Malcolm Delaney and Greivis Vasquez, and the winner, will have a leg up on the award. It is hard to believe that a team that is 21-6 is on the bubble, but the Hokies are and they should have a sense of desperation on Saturday. The Terps will look to do what no other team has done this year and win at Cassell Coliseum. If they can they will clinch at least second place in the ACC.
Ever since Seth Greenberg's arrival, Virginia Tech has been one of the better programs in the ACC. In Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen, the Hokies posses two of the best players in the conference and guys who we should see playing at the next level. The Hokies have been far from invincible this season losing to Miami, North Carolina and Boston College on the road. While they are undefeated at home, they only beat Boston College by one point, North Carolina by four and beat Virginia by six. Those games were all close, but they all resulted in wins, which is the bottom line. The Hokies certainly won't blow the Terps out so their familiarity with close games at home could benefit them.
The Hokies have three players in double figures in Delaney, Allen and Dorenzo Hudson. When you look at the statistics, the Hokies do no impress you on the offensive end. They shoot just 30 percent from 3 point range, score just 71 points per game, shoot 72 percent from the free throw line and their assist to turnover ration comes up on the negative end. Delaney averages 1.4 assists to 1 turnover per game, make him the only one with a positive assist to turnover ratio. The Hokies win games with good defense and rebounding. They yield just 63 points per game and grab just under 38 rebounds. The Terps have had two games on the road in which they scored under 60 points and if the Hokies can force that to happen, then they will come out victorious.
The Terps come into this game on a four game win streak and are coming off of one of the most exciting games of their season, battling back by 15 to beat Clemson. Gary Williams admitted that his team came out flat against Clemson after the emotional high of the Georgia Tech game, so I wonder if they will do the same against the Hokies. The Terps can't afford a bad first half against the Hokies so they will need to play 40 minutes of good basketball if they want to leave Blacksburg with a win.
One of the problems the Terps have had on the road this season is their shooting. In their last game against Clemson the Terps shot 61.5 percent from beyond the arc which is a far cry from their lackluster shooting performance at Clemson and at Duke this season. One of the best signs of the Terps victory over Clemson was that Greivis Vasquez was shut down for the majority of the game but other players stepped up and scored. Sean Mosley scored a team high 20 while Jordan Williams added 18 and Eric Hayes added 15 points in the win. They will need to continue that scoring on Saturday if the Terps want to have a chance. The Terps will also need to cure their rebounding woes as they allowed Clemson to get 33 rebounds, 14 of which were offensive. Jeff Allen may not have the size of Trevor Booker, but he is a good rebounder, pulling down almost seven per game. If the Terps continue to struggle to shoot on the road, then offensive rebounding will be a major key to victory.
The worst thing that could have happened for the Terps was for the Hokies to lose to Boston College in their last game. The Hokies now return home firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble and they should be playing with a sense of desperation. In addition to that the Terps have Duke at home in their next game so they may be looking ahead to that game. The Terps have shown a propensity to fall behind big early on the road and only once, against North Carolina State, were they able to battle back for victory. The crowd at Cassell Coliseum will be hostile, so a 10 point halftime deficit won't be easy to overcome. I still do not believe this team can win a big game on the road and given the Hokies sense of desperation and the Terps likely coming out flat after an emotional win against Clemson, I do not see a win happening here. It will be the same formula has it was at Clemson earlier, the Terps get down big early and battle back to keep it close but still come up shot. Hokies win and make a case to be in the big dance. Virginia Tech 66, Terps 62.