The Maryland Terrapins and the seventh-ranked Villanova Wildcats take a break from their respective league schedules to do battle in Philadelphia this afternoon.
Maryland has won four of its last five games to move to 11-5 overall, including a 1-2 mark in ACC action. Gary Williams' squad was particularly impressive on Wednesday when it knocked off Wake Forest on the road by a 74-55 final, and two of the three true road games to date have ended in wins. All five losses to date for the Terps have come by fewer than 10 points, and four have come against teams that either are currently or were ranked at the time.
Since suffering its lone loss of the season, Villanova has put together an impressive 10-game winning streak. The Wildcats, who are 15-1 overall, moved to 4-0 in Big East Conference play with an 88-74 victory over a strong Louisville squad on Wednesday. All 10 home games have gone in favor of Villanova thus far.
The Wildcats own a 3-1 series lead over the Terps, which includes a 95-86 victory last season.
Jordan Williams is clearly the go-to guy at the offensive end of the court for Maryland, as the 6-10 sophomore forward is netting 17.7 ppg on the strength of his 55 percent shooting from the floor. Much more than just a scorer, Williams is ripping down 12.1 rpg to rank among the national leaders, and he will become a complete player with improved free-throw shooting, his most glaring weakness. The only other double-digit scorer on the roster for the Terps is Cliff Tucker with his 11.9 ppg. The Terrapins are posting a healthy 79.2 ppg while holding opponents to 62.2 ppg on 36.6 percent field goal efficiency. In the 19-point romp over Wake Forest on Wednesday, Maryland shot just 38.2 percent from the floor, but was able to limit the Demon Deacons to 31.7 percent while forcing 18 turnovers. A 52-42 rebounding advantage helped the cause for the Terps, who got 21 points off the bench from Tucker. Williams tallied 13 points and 15 boards in that affair.
Corey Stokes has emerged as a big-time scorer this season for Villanova, as the standout guard is netting 17.0 ppg on the strength of his 46.8 percent shooting from the floor and 93.9 percent efficiency from the charity stripe. Corey Fisher, another outstanding guard for coach Jay Wright's team, provides 15.3 ppg and 77 assists, and Maalik Wayns rounds out arguably the nation's top backcourt with 13.3 ppg and 91 assists. Both Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou are solid frontcourt performers, and the Wildcats are generating 77.9 ppg while yielding 61.8 ppg to opponents. Stokes came through with 23 points in the win over Louisville, as he buried 4-of-7 three-point attempts. Yarou racked up 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Fisher showed his versatility by posting 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. As for Wayns, he contributed 15 points and seven assists for 'Nova, which shot 60.7 percent from the floor and played strong defense during the decisive second half.
Expect yet another win for Villanova, which is proving to be a serious national title contender. It is hard to beat a team with no weakness in the starting lineup.
GAME NOTES: The Maryland Terrapins and the seventh-ranked Villanova Wildcats take a break from their respective league schedules to do battle in Philadelphia this afternoon.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wells Fargo Center (21,000) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: CBS. Home Record: Maryland 9-1, Villanova 10-0. Away Record: Maryland 2-1, Villanova 4-0. Neutral Record: Maryland 0-3, Villanova 1-1. Conference Record: Maryland 1-2, Villanova 4-0. Series Record: Villanova leads, 3-1.
Villanova 85, Maryland 70