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2015 NCAA Tournament WVU vs Maryland Basketball Preview & How To Watch: Border Battle Renewed

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It took the NCAA Tournament to renew an old rivalry as WVU will meet the Maryland Terrapins for a chance at the Sweet Sixteen. Tip is scheduled for approximately 8:40 pm ET Sunday night on TNT.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket - Midwest Region - Columbus, OH

Columbus Bracket

Game Day Vitals

Opponent Information

WVU UMD RPI

The Interwebs

Why would you choose this as your mascot?

Game Preview

Tony Caridi and Jay Jacobs get you ready for Sunday's NCAA Tournament third-round game against Maryland in Columbus

Here are a few things I'll be looking for when the Mountaineers roll out the figurative carpet and get rolling in Columbus.

Juwan Is Back

You don't know what you have until it's gone. That's never been more true than with Mountaineer point guard Juwan Staten. When he's in the game it's a constant point of pressure on the defense - he can simply do things with a basketball in his hands at a speed that few other humans can match. He's dribbling, he's dribbling, you're in front of him....BOOM he's by you and at the trim and now he's jogging down the court because he just scored.

For a Mountaineer offense that struggles with consistency and execution, it's an invaluable weapon to have in the arsenal. Staten was often at his slashing best on Friday, scoring 15 points and dishing 7 assists, but more importantly opening things up for his teammates. All signs are that Staten will be back to face the Terrapins and that gives WVU their best chance to advance.

Clean Up The Glass

This one's short and simple. A look at the recap of Maryland's win over at Testudo Times reveals that the Terrapins struggled on the offensive glass in their 3 point win over Valparaiso (a struggle that seems to be a season-long trend), getting beat 11-4 in that category. Maryland ranks 281st nationally, gathering only 7.6 offensive boards per game. Valpo was only 128th at 9.5 per game. For a WVU team that ranks 2nd overall nationally, grabbing 14.3 off the offensive glass per game, this is certainly a welcome statistic.

Perhaps most vital to this effort will be the participation of Jonathan Holton. The WVU forward was limited to only 9 minutes because of fouls and didn't notch any offensive boards, but his work on the glass has been a hallmark of successful WVU efforts this season. If WVU is going to fully exploit this area of weakness for the Terps, they need one of their biggest weapons.

The Price of Pace

Given the Mountaineer's frantic pace and all the energy they expend, one would be justified in having concerns about how they will handle the quick turnaround. Here's some good stuff from Mike Casazza on how WVU has fared in multiple games played over a short span (hint - it will make you happy):

The Mountaineers went 3-0 in four days to win the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and later went 2-0 twice and 1-1 once when they had one day between games. WVU never lost the second (or third) game.

"I don’t know how much of this game would have taken out of them physically and emotionally, but they’re the type of team that’s physical and athletic enough to win games, moving forward in the tournament," Hurley said.

Lady Luck

A friend of mine texted me an interesting tidbit the other day. It seems that a look at Ken Pomeroy's "Luck" rankings reveals that the team in the top spot - aka the luckiest team in America - is the Maryland Terrapins. To further define what this means, look at Pomeroy's definition of "luck":

A measure of the deviation between a team’s actual winning percentage and what one would expect from its game-by-game efficiencies. Essentially, a team involved in a lot of close games should not win (or lose) all of them. Those that do will be viewed as lucky (or unlucky).

In essence, that means a look at a team's expected record based on efficiencies - another collection of stats and rankings Pomeroy tracks - and their actual record, you see how "lucky" they've been. How many games they've won that they haven't necessarily by the numbers played well enough to win. That distinction takes on further meaning when you see the Terrapins are 12-1 in games decided by 7 points or less.

Now to be fair, that could mean one of two things. Either Maryland has been very lucky - benefiting from a fortuitous bounce of the ball or tweet of the whistle at the right time, or they're a savvy team that keeps its head and makes plays when the game is on the line. What is the real answer? We could very well find out on Sunday night.

For what it's worth WVU's "luck" ranking is 23rd (6th among teams still playing).