Villanova Wildcats vs. Maryland Terrapins Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Villanova Wildcats (7-0 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Maryland Terrapins (5-2 SU, 3-2 ATS), 7:30 p.m. EST, Sunday, December 6, 2009, Comcast Center, College Park, Md. TV: CBS
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Villanova -2/Maryland +2
Over/Under: 142.5

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Fresh off a Final Four appearance, the Villanova Wildcats brought in one of the best recruiting classes in college basketball and are primed to make another run at the Final Four. They face their first road test of the season when they travel to College Park to face the Maryland Terrapins.

Villanova hasn’t had a smooth start to the season, but the Wildcats are 7-0 so Jay Wright can’t complain too much. In the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, they started with a one-point last-minute comeback victory over George Mason in which freshman forward Isaiah Armwood hit a 3-pointer to win the game after playing only four minutes in the game. The next day, they had a tough test with Dayton but the Wildcats survived with a 71-65 victory. In the championship of the tournament, they defeated Ole Miss, 79-67. Since then, they got two easy wins over city rivals LaSalle and Drexel. Wright’s team received a huge blow when they found out that freshman big man Mouphtaou Yarou has Hepatitis B. He was sent home after getting sick in Puerto Rico and his loss really hurts the Villanova frontcourt.

Villanova will usually use a four-guard lineup this season. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher are the focal points of the team. The two scoring guards are solid point guard that can score when they have to or distribute the ball. Reynolds leads the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and is second in assists with 3.6 per game. Fisher leads the team in assists with 4.3 per game and is third in scoring with 11.9 points per game. Along with the two of them, Nova has a bunch of shooters they can stack on the perimeter, including Taylor King, Corey Stokes, Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek. Without Yarou, the Wildcats are very thin down low. Their only big men are Antonio Pena and Maurice Sutton. Because of that, King (6-foot-6) often serves as the power forward.

Maryland came into the season with fairly high expectations but the Terrapins really haven’t proved themselves yet. In the Maui Invitational, they lost to both Cincinnati and Wisconsin in their first quality games of the season. In the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, they were able to pick up a much-needed win over Indiana, but a win over Villanova would go a long way for the Terps.

Beating Maryland is all about stopping Greivis Vasquez, a 6-foot-6 point guard who means as much to his team as one player in college basketball. Vasquez can take over a game as a distributor or a scorer. He also is a solid defender and is often a mismatch for whoever is guarding him. This season, Vasquez is averaging 12.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. He is only shooting 32 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range, which is bad news. But the good news is that Landon Milbourne and Sean Mosley have stepped up and are scoring over 13 points per game. Eric Hayes has also been very good with 11.9 points per game. With help from his teammates, it makes it easier for Vasquez to lead the Terps to some victories.

The Terps start a similar lineup to that of the Wildcats. They start three guards, a small forward and one big man. They don’t have the incredible depth that Nova has, but they do have a solid eight-man rotation with freshman Jordan Williams starting at center, James Padgett backing him up, and Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker backing up the guards.

This is going to be a tough game for Villanova in its first true road game of the season with so many young players. The Comcast Center will be rocking and the Terps could really use a win in this one. Nova must find a way to defend Vasquez because he is the key to the Terps’ success. Reynolds and Fisher are two small to guard him and Stokes and King aren’t quick enough. If the Terps can exploit that and get Vasquez going, they have a chance to pull off the upset. They key for Nova is to create turnovers and get out in the open floor for some easy points. In the half-court, they have to knock down their 3-point attempts. If Stokes, King and Reynolds are feeling it from downtown, it’s going to be a tough game to win for Maryland.

Ryno’s Pick: Despite this being the first true road game for the Wildcats, they are much more than two points better than Maryland. These teams match up decently with each other but Nova needs to figure out a way to stop Vasquez. If he continues to shoot poorly like he has been doing this season and Nova hits some early outside jumpers, this could be an easy win for the Wildcats. Maryland hasn’t proven yet this season to be able to win a big game like this, while Villanova has proven that with its wins over Dayton and Ole Miss. Take Villanova -2.