#7 Georgia Tech (20-11overall, 7-9ACC)
#2 Maryland Terrapins (23-7overall, 13-3ACC)
3/12/10 7PM Greensboro Coliseum Greensboro, NC
PF: GT: 74.3 MD: 79.8 PA: GT: 66.1 MD:67.4
Last game: GT: def UNC 62/58, ACC Tourn 1st round MD: bye
Last meeting: MD def GT 76-74
If there is one team that the Terps did not want to see in their first ACC tournament game, its is Georgia Tech. Despite playing poorly on the road this season, the Yellow Jackets went into to Comcast Center earlier this year, dominated the Terps on the glass and inside and would have left with a win had it not been for the heroics of Cliff Tucker. The Yellow Jackets are still on the tournament bubble and Paul Hewitt's job is on the line, those two factors should make them a tough out in the quarterfinal for the Terps.
Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal combined for 33 points and 23 rebounds in the first meeting against the Terps and they once again will be the toughest challenge for the Terps to stop. Focusing on Favors and Lawal inside left open shots for Iman Shumpert, who scored 17 points and was three of four from beyond the arc. The Jackets are not a great shooting team, they usually win games with tough inside play and defense, so it is tough to believe they will shoot that way again, however, division one college basketball players won't miss too many open shots if you give them to them so the Terps need to find a way to focus on the twin towers inside but not lose their defensive responsibility on the shooter.
The Yellow Jackets escaped their first round game against North Carolina, tailing by 10 at halftime before finally pulling out a low scoring, four point win. If they can hold the explosive Terps offense to under 60 points then they will win, if they can't they will need to make a lot of shots and score in the mid 70's to have a chance. Tech was only 5-for-19 from beyond the arc against the Tarheels, a similar performance like that should spell defeat to the Terps regardless of how well Favors and Lawal play.
The Terps last game was on Saturday, and since then they have done nothing but rest and collect a little hardware. Greivis Vasquez and Gary Williams accomplished a rare double feat for the Terps winning ACC Player of the Year and Coach of the Year respectively. While the rest is good for the Terps, I do not expect them to come out lackluster in this game. Despite finishing in a tie for first in conference, this team feels still a little slighted and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. I can do all the analysis I want and give you all the stats in the world that will show the Terps are going to lose this game but there is one X-FACTOR they have that no other team in the ACC has, Gary Williams. There is no doubt in my mind that Williams will have some game plan in store to stop Lawal and Favors on defense and create shots for his team on offense. If his team executes that game plan, they will win the game.
The Terps have not played great on the road, and luckily for them, they are not facing a tobacco road opponent, so the crowd should be pretty much neutral, outside of the contingents from both teams. As always the offense will revolve around Vasquez and he is certain to be the focus of Paul Hewitt and his team. Since getting dominated by Favors and Lawal inside, Jordan Williams has been a stud inside seemingly recording a double-double in every game. Williams will get some help from Dino Gregory and they will need to stay out of foul trouble. Much like he did in the Duke game, Gary Williams is likely to go with a small lineup at times, which forces the bigger, slower, Yellow Jackets to come away from the basket and guard the Terps shooters. The game plan will be stellar now its just down to the likes of Hayes, Mosley and Milbourne to knock down shots.
Bottom line, the Terps deserved to lose the last meeting against the Yellow Jackets and were lucky to escape with a win. All stats aside, this game comes down to two factors: Gary Williams has had five days to prepare for Georgia Tech and the Terps will have to execute on offense. Williams showed why he is one the best coaches in the country this season and he will out coach Paul Hewitt in this game. Williams knows his team struggled on the glass last meeting so he will find a way for them to exert their will on Georgia Tech. The Terps have a major advantage on the perimeter, and shoot better from 3 point range and the foul line. Getting to the line and getting open 3 pointers will be the key to victory. This decade has been more known for first game exits than it has been for deep runs for the Terps, and they are facing a team that is on the tournament bubble. Georgia Tech is more desperate, has better inside players, but they will not win this game. The Terps will be more prepared, better coached and Georgia Tech will not knock down shots like they did in the first meeting. It will be a dog fight but I expect the Terps to advance to the Semi finals. Terps 74, Georgia Tech 66.