The Terrapins make their return trip to Blacksburg tonight. The Hokies lost the first meeting in College Park 71-94.
Maryland is 4-5 in conference play, suffering their last 4 losses on the road. This bodes well for the Hokies, who are currently on a 4 game losing skid. Might tonight be the night the team is finally rewarded for the increased effort given as of late? If they want to stop Maryland, they'll have to defend the 3-point line better. Maryland sunk ten 3-pointers the last time out, 3.5 more than the Hokies are allowing per game this season.
Maryland ranks first nationally in rounds (42.6), and second in rebound margin (11.1) with a front court including Alex Len (12.7 PPG, 8.2 REB), a future lottery pick. I expect the Hokies to do the same thing they did last time in the front court and start both Cadarian Raines and Joey van Zegeren. Tech did a great job on the boards then, but if Maryland switches to zone be prepared for Tech to get beat down low.
So it turns out it was a pretty good idea for the football team to get flu shots. Marquis Rankin and C.J. Barksdale are now sick and are questionable for tonight's game. How many people on the team (including coaches) have gotten the flu?
Coach Johnson thinks the Hokies have improved despite the losses, and I tend to agree.
"I think the team is playing better right now," said Johnson, whose Hokies have lost four straight and host Maryland tonight at 9. "I think defensively we've improved. I think rebounding we've improved. I just don't know how consistency is still an issue with individual players and with the team."
Effort is up, defense is better; we just haven't won due to the great competition we've faced. Johnson also thinks fatigue has been a big issue down the stretch.
"I don't know if there's much we can do to try to combat that now because we've got to do certain things in practice and preparation to prepare for the teams we're playing," Johnson said. "It's Feb. 4th, and we've played a lot of games. We've played a lot of guys a lot of minutes. I mean, certain guys have played a lot of minutes, and I think that's just wearing on them."
The team got Sunday and Monday off to rest, so maybe we'll see fresher legs tonight.
Erick Green struggled to score against UNC, and finished with just 16 points (9 below his 25 point average). Nick Faust will guard Green, and attempt hold him under 20 for a second straight game. Coach Johnson hinted that Erick was tired last game, but I expect the senior to respond strongly.
It's the Blackout game tonight, and tip's at 9:00. I don't know what to expect of the crowd considering how few showed up for the Miami game. What I do know is, if the students are there, it'll be loud.
Robert Brown had another good practice, and I know we're all waiting for it to translate to in game success. He and Jarell Eddie are needed for the team to win and they haven't both showed up for 40 minutes since the Oklahoma State game.
An important stat, in Maryland's 5 ACC losses, they have 78 total turnovers, an average of 15.6 per game. If Maryland is careless with the ball, the Hokies can have scoring opportunities in transition. Who doesn't like easy points, especially with our half-court offense.
My prediction for the game tonight is Virginia Tech will do much better defensively and continue to show the great effort they've been giving. Unfortunately, the much deeper Terrapins will wear out the Hokies and win, 81-75.
Use this page for the game thread, and I'd love to hear y'alls thoughts/predictions for the game below!