Maryland-Virginia Tech - renewing an unheralded rivalry
Thursday night, the Terps face off against who I would argue is their biggest rival in the ACC outside of Duke – Virginia Tech. Not only are the Hokies attempting to break into the basketball recruiting scene in the Maryland-D.C. area, but a lot of students in the area go to Virginia Tech and love talking about how much better their football program is than Maryland’s. Obviously there isn’t much of an argument to be had when comparing football programs (yet), so it’s pretty awesome when the Terps are able to stick it to the Hokies in basketball.
Last year’s double-overtime game in Blacksburg is one of the best sporting events I’ve ever been to. Between J.T. Thompson hitting only the second three-pointer of his career to help send the game into its first overtime and Grevis Vasquez erupting for 41 points, it had so many highs and lows I couldn’t sleep for at least a week. Being able to walk out of Cassell Coliseum with my head held high after that battle was an exhilarating feeling. Not to mention the fact that it immediately sent the price for the very few remaining tickets to the game against Duke way out of my price range (trust me, I checked as soon as I got back to my friend’s house at VT.)
While I don’t believe that this season’s game at Comcast will quite live up to the thriller in Blacksburg, I don’t expect it to be any less of a war. Maryland native Malcolm Delaney and D.C. native Jeff Allen are coming back for their last chance at a win in their backyard. Both teams are looking to compile good wins to put on their resumes come March. This is also arguably the biggest game at Comcast thus far this season, so I absolutely expect it to be as loud as it can be without a team wearing blue on the other side of the court.
In my opinion, the outcome of this game will come down to two matchups: VT all-ACC guard Malcolm Delaney vs. the so far non-existent/should be all-ACC guard Sean Mosley and Jordan Williams vs. the Hokies’ undersized frontcourt.
Delaney is one of the better offensive players in the ACC, and even though his numbers are down, I’d argue he’s a better player now than he’s ever been as he’s become a lot more efficient with major improvements in all of his shooting percentages. Conversely, Mosley has a reputation for being relentless defensively and one of the better lockdown defenders in the ACC.
I’d be ecstatic if Mosley picked this as his game to finally breakout this season, but I’d be just as content if he were able to slow down Delaney. The fact that Mosley and Delaney grew up playing each other in Baltimore should only add to the intensity level they will possess on Thursday night. If you slow down Delaney, you give yourself a great chance to beat the Hokies.
Jordan Williams should be able continue to cement his status as the ACC’s most dominant big man and add another double-double to his seemingly never-ending list of them. While the Hokies do possess a few talented big men, none are taller than 6 feet 8 or weigh more than 245 pounds. Williams is listed at 6 feet 10 and 260 pounds and is the third-leading rebounder in the nation, and first among all players from big-time conferences.
The Hokies' most talented big man, senior forward Jeff Allen, is only listed at 6 feet 7 and 230 pounds. However, he's had issues staying on the court after fouling out of five games this year and recording three or more fouls in 12 of 16 games. Beyond Allen and Victor Davila, the Hokies don’t really have anyone on their bench that is classified as a post player. So pair the lack of depth with lack of size, and Jordan should be in store for a field day against the Hokies.
A lot of blogs and articles have mentioned that it’s not time for the Terps to start panicking about their positioning for the NCAA Tournament after losing another heart-breaker to a quality team on Saturday. While I agree with that, the Terps really need to put together a solid winning streak during ACC play to be considered for an invitation.
Even though I’m officially out of the business of predicting the outcomes of the Terps’ basketball games since it seems like I’ve been wrong every time I’ve tried, I’d be extremely surprised if the Terps didn’t return from Saturday’s loss with a chip on their shoulder. A loss against an underachieving VT team at home could do serious damage to their prospects come March.
| January 19, 2011; 11:24 AM ET
Categories: Rick Nelligan, Terps | Tags: Rick Nelligan, Terps
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