College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Two familiar foes will square off at the XFINITY Center on Wednesday evening, as the 21st-ranked Maryland Terrapins play host to the seventh-ranked Virginia Cavaliers as part of the 2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Maryland made the move from the ACC over to the Big Ten this season and has certainly not struggled in its new surroundings, jumping out to a perfect 7-0 start thus far. Mark Turgeon's Terrapins are in the midst of a six-game homestand, opening up with wins over Monmouth (61-56) and VMI (95-77) in the last five days.
The defending ACC champion Cavaliers haven't lost a beat, as Tony Bennett's team has also started the year with a flawless 7-0 mark. Fueled by stellar defensive play, six of Virginia's seven wins thus far have come by double digits, including a 45-26 pasting of Rutgers to capture the Barclays Center Classic this past weekend.
This marks the first non-conference meeting between these two teams since 1953. Maryland holds a 107-74 series advantage and won the last meeting, a 75-69 decision in College Park last March.
The Cavaliers weren't sharp offensively against Rutgers, but it didn't matter as their suffocating defensive play overwhelmed the Scarlet Knights, who managed a mere 26 total points, on just .250 shooting. Contesting just about every shot, Virginia held Rutgers to an ugly 0-of-13 from behind the arc and earned a 43-32 edge in rebounding in the game. Forward Anthony Gill and guard Justin Anderson led the way offensively with 13 points apiece for Virginia, which shot just .327 form the field and a poor 2-of-16 from 3-point range (.125).
When a team plays the kind of defense that Virginia does, flashy offensive numbers are irrelevant. The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 43.6 ppg, as foes are shooting just .301 from the floor, including .271 from long range. In addition, Virginia boasts of a +14.9 rebounding margin. While the scoring totals aren't large for the most part (66.9 ppg), both Anderson and Gill have been efficient, shooting .543 and .633 from the floor, respectively. Anderson has shot the lights out from 3-point range (16-of-27) and leads the team with 15.0 ppg. Gill ranks second on the team with 12.6 ppg. Guard Malcolm Brogdon adds 11.4 ppg to the cause.
While Virginia put on a defensive clinic last time out, Maryland did the same at the offensive end of the floor, rolling up 95 points on VMI. The point total was the largest for Maryland since 2012 (100-68 win over UMES). Richaud Pack led the charge with 22 points in the victory over the Keydets. Jake Layman, Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley all poured in 19 points for Maryland, which shot .578 from the floor, including a scorching .679 in the second half.
The Terrapins remain undefeated despite suffering some huge losses due to injury. Evan Smotrycz has only played in two games this season with an ankle injury. He came back against VMI but tweaked the ankle and is questionable for this contest. The news is much worse for star guard Dez Wells, who recently had wrist surgery and is out indefinitely. Wells' 16.2 ppg won't be easy to make up when the Big Ten slate comes around, although the outburst from Pack (7.1 ppg) last time out was encouraging. For now, Trimble is the go-to-guy at the offensive end, netting 16.6 ppg. Layman (14.6 ppg) provides frontcourt balance.