We will be taking you around the conference this season with some great ACC blogs to preview the matchups. The Tigers take on the Terps at Maryland Saturday afternoon and SB Nation’s Testudo Times has us covered…
Us: At 11-7 (1-3 ACC), it's desperation time for Maryland when it comes to the NCAA Tournament - how big is this game coming off the worst loss in the history of Comcast Center Thursday?
Testudo Times: It's big. If Maryland even wants to think about making the Big Dance this year, outside of winning the ACC Tournament, they need to win this game on Saturday. I'd be shocked if they didn't come out strong from the opening tip, especially after how they started the game against Va. Tech, when they allowed them to start the game on a 12-0 run. Gary Williams questioned the team's effort and I think they know that they're going to have to go all out from now on.
Us: The Terps have now dropped two games at home in conference with losses to solid teams in Boston College and Virginia Tech. Any common denominators in those games?
TT: The losses actually couldn't be more different. The only common denominator would be their help defense, which allowed both Virginia Tech and Boston College to score some easy baskets. But otherwise, the BC game was very close, but as with most of the Terps' losses this season, they just couldn't close out the game. Against Tech, they couldn't run their offense against the 2-3 zone and looked like an extremely uninspired team. Gary Williams summed it up well in his post game press conference - "It's one thing to lose, but it's another thing how you lose." In all of their previous losses before last night, Maryland had the effort, but just couldn't get over the hump. Against Tech, they seemed like they were sleep walking.
Us: Clemson doesn't seem to Fear the Turtle - going 7-3 (with two of them at Comcast Center) in their last 10 games with Maryland. What has made the Tigers a thorn in the side of the Terps of late?
TT: Ugh, players from the state of Maryland who the Terps didn't recruit and went to Clemson with the sole purpose of having career games against us. Sharrod Ford is the prime example.Trevor Booker seemed to always have a big game against us for whatever reason too. Clemson just seems to always bring their A game against the Terps for whatever reason.
Us: Maryland forward Jordan Williams tied the Terps' consecutive double-double record (12 games) with his 11 points and 11 rebounds against the Hokies. Overall, he is averaging 17.7 points per game and 12.1 rebounds - what's been behind the jump in production from his freshman to sophomore year? What other players should Tiger fans watch for?
TT: Jordan, by his own admission, came into this season having lost around 20 pounds and replacing that fat with muscle. I think that was the first factor. Secondly, he keep getting better, even during the season, having added in a jump shot to his portfolio and being able to power his way inside to get to the basket and score. The other reason his numbers are up is because so much of Maryland's offense was scored by their three seniors last season, Vasquez, Hayes and Milbourne. Jordan has become more of a first scoring option on offense whereas he wasn't that last year.
If Tiger fans are looking for someone else to watch out for, I'd say Cliff Tucker. The senior guard/forward shows flashes of greatness, such as his 11 point explosion in just over one and a half minutes in the second half of the game against Virginia Tech. When he gets hot, watch out.
Us: What are the keys to the Terps turning it around with a win against the Tigers?
TT: They need to be patient and do a better job of more efficiently rushing their offense. When Virginia Tech came out in their 2-3 zone, it was is if Maryland had never seen a zone defense before. They couldn't work the ball inside to Williams and they couldn't hit an outside shot to force Tech to switch to man to man. Maryland does best on the fast break and when they can run the offense inside-out through Jordan Williams. If they're able to do that on Saturday, I think they'll win.