Maryland at Virginia
Maryland (15-10, 5-6) at Virginia (19-6, 6-5), 1:00 PM, ACC Network split/ESPN3
Things are looking pretty bleak for Virginia right now. Not only are they in danger of finishing outside the top four of the ACC, but the Cavaliers are also in potential danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. Three of their final five games are very winnable, though (twice against Maryland and at Virginia Tech), but they still have home dates against North Carolina and Florida State. That means Virginia needs to win games like the Maryland contest because if the Cavaliers lose nine or more games, it might get dicey.
Stat to watch: Turnovers. Virginia plays at far too slow a pace to be turning it over as much as it has recently. In two of its last three losses, Virginia has had a loss of ball of 28% or higher, including a season-high 29% at Clemson (18 turnovers in 62 possessions) and 28.6% at Florida State (20 turnovers in 70 possessions). But Maryland doesn’t force many, and if Virginia executes its offense well and Mike Scott can get going for the Cavaliers, it’s going to be tough for Maryland without Virginia miscues. Maryland has started to get careless with the ball as well, turning it over 28 times in 146 possessions (19.2% loss of ball) in the last two games. Virginia will make opponents pay for mistakes, so Maryland will have
Most important players: Sammy Zeglinski, Virginia and Nick Faust, Maryland. Virginia’s senior shooting guard has been in what would euphemistically be called a shooting slump. He has made 14-of-58 three’s in ACC play and since a 6-of-9 stretch against Boston College and NC State, he has shot just 4-of-31 in five games (12.9%). Particularly with swingman Joe Harris nursing a broken (non-shooting) hand, the Cavaliers have to have more production from Zeglinski. But Zeglinski has shot 13-of-26 (50%) from the floor and 11-of-18 from three in his last three game against Maryland, averaging 14 points. Maybe he can recapture some of that magic on Saturday.
Maryland’s Nick Faust has really come on for Maryland lately with 29 points in the last two games, and against BC he added four rebounds, six assists and five steals in 35 minutes. He also guarded BC’s best player Matt Humphrey and held him to his lowest scoring output in nearly a month. He’s averaging 10.5 points in the last three games. Maryland will need that from him against a Virginia team that’s hard to score on, particularly if it keys on Terrell Stoglin.
Random stat: Maryland has scored 25.6% of its points this season from the foul line, which is fifth nationally, and in ACC play they’ve scored 25.9% of their points from the charity stripe, which leads the league.
Prediction: Virginia 63, Maryland 57
Last week: 7-4
Season: 111-39 (47-20 ACC)