No. 7/8 Maryland (20-4, 11-2 ACC) will be in Charlottesville on Sunday to take on Virginia (15-9, 7-6 ACC) in a rematch at 5 p.m.
Both of these teams are solid defensively and on the boards, while both struggle when it comes to turnover margin. Maryland is second and Virginia is fourth in the ACC in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. The Cavs are also fourth in rebounding margin, while the Terps lead in that category. However, in turnover margin, Virginia and Maryland are ninth and 10th in the conference respectively.
Virginia’s problem is going to be putting points on the board. They average just 62.3 points per game, the ninth most in the ACC. If they’re scoring in the 60s, or fail to even reach 60 as they have in their past three games, they may have trouble keeping up with the offensive firepower of Maryland’s two stars. The Cavs’ good defense can only contain Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins so much, until eventually their offense gets pressured into playing catch up.
The Terps put up 79 back on Dec. 6 at Comcast Center in the first UMD/UVA meeting this year. Virginia could only manage 55 on 25 percent shooting.
As far as turnovers, the fact that the teams’ margins are about even (-0.96 for Virginia to -1 for Maryland) probably favors the better overall team in the Terrapins. If the wasted possessions on both sides cancel out, chances are Maryland, the most efficient shooting team in the ACC, will make the most of the possessions they do have. The Cavs have to try and win the turnover battle because it is one of Maryland’s few areas of weakness.
In this game, Hawkins has a good shot at joining Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman by becoming only the third player in Maryland women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career rebounds. She needs eight more boards and is averaging 9.9 on the season.
If this special milestone for Tianna does come on Sunday, it will come against her former high school teammate and current Cavalier junior Ataira Franklin who is from Bowie, Md., just a 20 minute drive from College Park. The two played together at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Md. and are now the leading scorers for their respective ACC schools. Franklin, a 5-11 guard, averages 13 points per game for Virginia.
Franklin dropped 15 to lead the Cavs on Dec. 6, while Thomas and Hawkins led all scorers with 20 apiece in their second of nine 40-plus combined scoring efforts so far this season. Virginia better watch out because seven of those have come in the last nine games.