After Saturday, Villanova will only play Big East teams until the postseason. The last nonconference test comes in the form of the Maryland Terrapins, led by coach Gary Williams. Over the last few decades, Maryland has established itself as one of the premier programs in the country, including winning a national championship in 2002.
The Wildcats nonconference schedule gets questioned virtually every year, but there are only so many opportunities to schedule big out of conference opponents since Villanova is in the Big 5. Nonetheless, playing against teams in other power conferences, such as Maryland in the ACC, is usually a good measuring stick to see how the Big East stacks up.
More on the game after the jump...
Time: 1 PM ET
Location: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA
TV: CBS with Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg calling the action
About the Terrapins
While the Terps have played one of the toughest schedules in the country to date, they have failed to notch a quality win. In their 4 losses to Pittsburgh, Illinois, Temple, and Duke, they lost by a combined 23 points. The talent is there, but in a weak ACC, this is one of their last chances to post a big win on the resume.
Big man Jordan Williams, who stands at 6'10" and weighs 260 lbs., is one of the best low-post players in the country. Through 16 games, the sophomore Williams is scoring at a rate of 17.7 points per game, while rebounding the ball over 12 times a game. Complimenting Williams is the senior swingman Cliff Tucker, who is averaging 11.9 ppg; Tucker is also the best 3 point shooter for Maryland, as he hits about 38% of his treys. The two guards to watch are junior Sean Mosley and senior Adrian Bowie, who both put up over 8 points a game. Bowie has also averaged 4 dimes per contest.
Saturday's matchup concludes the 2 year home-and-home series between the Terps and Wildcats. Last year in Washington, D.C., Villanova set a school record by attempting 39 pointers, hitting 16 of them in the process, on their way to a 95-86 win.
What to Expect
After 10 consecutive victories, the Cats are officially rolling. If they can keep playing like they did in the second half against Louisville, not many teams can beat them. With all that said, don't expect Nova to shoot over 55% from the field that consistently, because it's just not realistic. Thus, their defense will need to pick back up after getting torched from deep against the Cardinals. The Terps are not a great 3 point shooting team, but leave any college hoops player wide open, and there's a good chance it's going in. One would think the press might be tweaked a little in order to prevent the transition three bombardment from happening again.
As mentioned earlier, the Terps have been very competitive thus far, but without any real quality victories, Gary Williams' squad might be in a little desperation mode. A win in a hostile environment on national television against a top 10 team would certainly allow the Terps to breathe a sigh of relief.
All in all, this is definitely a trap game for Villanova. The Cats just came off a big win against a ranked team, and they have 2 huge road games next week at UConn and Syracuse. If Villanova overlooks the Terps, they could easily get burned. There's always a few of these trap games every year, and usually, Jay Wright has his guys ready to go, but you never know.
One thing I really would like to see is a packed house at the Wells Fargo Center. There's really no excuse anymore for Villanova fans. A Saturday, 1 PM game against a perennial ACC contender should be a lock for a raucous atmosphere.