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Cavaliers hope to drive a stake into the heart of the Terrapins' NCAA bubble dreams

For Maryland, today's game is a step in what is a steep uphill battle to plea their NCAA Bubble case. The Terps are 18-12 (7-8 ACC), and are well outside the bubble at this point, but with an 8-8 regular season and several ACC Tournament wins, they could just pull it off.

For Virginia, well, there's not that much on the line. The Hoos, 15-14 (6-9 ACC) are an outside-bubble shot at the NIT, and even that will require a win at Comcast and perhaps a trip to the finals in the ACC Tournament (and if that's the case, we might as well just win it all, you know?). Virginia has all but locked up an 8/9 seed for next week's tournament, and it doesn't matter which, since they play each other and have to get to play Duke 24 hours later. There are outside shots at a 7 or 10 seed (which in my opinion would be much better than an 8/9), but don't put much hope in that.

Ball screen. Open shot. Ball screen. Open shot. You can expect a lot of this coming from Maryland this afternoon. I am expecting a lot of points coming from the Terrapins, because their offense simply matches up well against a pack-line defense that generally allows teams to take the perimeter.

Virginia again will have to work over Jordan Williams, who averages 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. But he's not the only offensive weapon the Terps have in their arsenal. Terrell Stoglin also averages 11.7 points per game, and they've got a few guys close to breaking double-digits. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Hoos were successful in holding Williams to only 4 points and 6 rebounds -- it was his lowest production in both categories all season. But wait, there's more! Apparently senior guard Adrian Bowie has some power as well, as he put up 22 points that game -- his highest production all season (next closest was 16 vs. the likes of Colgate and UNC Greensboro).

On offense, the Hoos need to make buckets. Badly. I know that sounds like [Insert your least favorite commentator here], but it's true. In the last meeting between the two teams, Virginia shot 33.3% from the field and just 23.5% from beyond the arc (and, for that matter, 46.2% free throws!). The three ball is Virginia's only shot that has been keeping them in games season, and unless Joe Harris, Mustapha Farrakhan, Sammy Zeglinski and company are lighting it up from way out there, it will be tough for anything else to happen. If they're on their game, then yes, you can say it. WINNING!

It's not just that Virginia needs to make buckets, it's that Virginia needs to make first-chance buckets. Tony Bennett coaches his players to get back on defense quickly after a shot, rather than stick around to try to get the rebound. On the other hand, Maryland is a fantastic rebounding team, ranked 38th in the country with a rebound margin of +4.6. Jordan Williams's average rebound per game has him ranked at 3rd in the country. If Virginia is not sinking the ball the first time around, odds are that there won't be any second chances.

We don't match up well against Maryland, and for Virginia, this will be just as tough as any Carolina or Duke game. Virginia hasn't won at College Park since 2007, and it's senior night for the Terps. This one might not end up pretty, folks.


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