Preview: Maryland travels to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech

Preview: Maryland travels to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech
February 1, 2014, 6:00 am
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VITALS

Date: 1 February 2014

Time: 12 noon

Location: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va.

Television: ESPN3

Spread: Maryland (-5.0)

FAST BREAK PREVIEW

And so it begins for Maryland. The toughest stretch of the team’s season so far--four of the next five games on the road including matchups with UNC, Florida State, Virginia, and Duke--and it all begins with Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Preview the action below.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Virginia Tech’s length vs. Maryland’s front line

Head coach Mark Turgeon made it a point when talking to the media on Friday that the Hokies have a complement of players on the front line that will pose a challenge for his Terrapins on the interior.

There isn’t necessarily a dominant rebounder in the bunch, but together they rank in the Top 50 nationally in that category. At 6-10, Joey Van Zegeren is the tallest of the ground, flanked by Jarell Eddie (highlighted below), Marshall Wood, and Trevor Thompson all averaging close to or above four rebounds per game.

For Maryland, that means Shaquillle Cleare, Charles Mitchell, and Jonathan Graham all need to stay out of foul trouble.

[RELATED: Terps 'desperate' for win vs. VT?]

MARYLAND PLAYER TO WATCH

Dez Wells, guard

There is nothing more Maryland could have asked of Dez Wells in the second half of the team’s win over Miami. He scored 21 points in the final 20 minutes, including a perfect 7-of-7 shooting mark from the field and 6-of-6 from the line.

Oh, and he hit the game-winning shot with under 10 seconds to play.

The question now is what that means for Saturday. We have seen on more than one occasion this season when Wells takes over in the second half and pushes the team to a win or--in the case of Maryland’s second game against Pittsburgh--almost does.

So why does it always happen at the end of games? Will we see a more balanced distribution of Wells’ shots, instead of a few in the first and a takeover in the second? Saturday might provide that answer.

VIRGINIA TECH PLAYER TO WATCH

Jarell Eddie, forward

At 6-7, 220 pounds, Jarell Eddie is Virginia Tech’s most complete player. He leads the team in points (14.9) and rebounds (5.9) per game.

This is a young basketball team and Eddie, a senior, has had to help fill the shoes left by the departure of guard Erick Green at the end of last season. The focus for Maryland defensively should be keeping tabs on him on the perimeter, where he shoots greater than 40 percent, but also not allowing him to get to the line off the dribble.

The more shots he has to take to get to his nearly 15 points per game, the better.

INTANGIBLE TO CONSIDER

This is a Virginia Tech team that started 7-3. It is 1-9 since, with its only win coming against Maryland-Eastern Shore. This is the same situation Maryland faced when it traveled to Raleigh to play NC State (even before it was announced that star forward TJ Warren would not play in that game).

Maryland has to have this game. This is the defining stretch of this season. The Terrapins at the very least have to finish 2-3 during these five games. A win over Virginia Tech has to be the start. Find two definite wins out of UNC, Virginia, Florida State, and Duke. Right. That’s what makes this game a must-win.

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