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No. 10 Maryland and Georgia Tech prepare for another battle

These two teams have a habit of knocking each other out of the ACC tournament, going down to the wire and competing like crazy against one another. Right now they're headed in opposite directions though - Maryland on a four-game win streak, Georgia Tech on a three-game skid.

Tyaunna Marshall (left) dropped 25 the last time Georgia Tech and Maryland met. Alyssa Thomas (right) answered with 29.
Tyaunna Marshall (left) dropped 25 the last time Georgia Tech and Maryland met. Alyssa Thomas (right) answered with 29.

Coming up on Sunday for No. 10 Maryland (14-3, 5-1 ACC) is a date at Georgia Tech (8-9, 1-5 ACC) at 3 p.m.

The last time this matchup was won by double digits? March 2, 2007 when Maryland won, 75-59. Only once since then have the Terps and Yellow Jackets gone to overtime, but there have been a few other times where they came just about as close as you can get.

Last year, they met three times and all three contests were close.

First there was the epic comeback in College Park on Jan. 6, 2012. The Terps rallied back from being down 20 early in the second half and Alyssa Thomas hit the go-ahead shot with 17 seconds remaining in order for Maryland to go on and beat Georgia Tech, 77-74.

In February of 2012, the Yellow Jackets failed to avenge this collapse, falling, 64-56, in a game that was tied with 2:45 to go.

And despite how hard it is to beat a good team three times in the same season, the Terps pulled it off against the Yellow Jackets in the 2012 ACC championship game, winning, 68-65, in a contest that was tied with 1:42 remaining.

So recent history would suggest that Maryland's streak of 20-point wins is about to end Sunday. But Georgia Tech is struggling right now and the question is whether or not they can uphold their end of the deal and make this Maryland game competitive and exciting like so many have been in recent memory.

The Yellow Jackets were a 4 seed in the NCAA tournament last year and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to eventual champion Baylor by a respectable 15.

They then lost center Sasha Goodlett to the Indiana Fever, who selected her with the 11th pick of the 2012 WNBA draft. Goodlett was a 2011-12 second-team all-ACC member who at 6 feet 5 inches led Georgia Tech with 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last year. She averaged 18.3 points in the three games against Maryland.

The Yellow Jackets also lost their total assists leader and third leading scorer Metra Walthour. Of the six players who averaged 15 or more minutes a game for them last season, only two - junior guards Tyaunna Marshall and Dawnn Maye - returned. Admittedly for the Terps, they are operating with just three 15-minute-a-game players from last year, but it would be five if not for season-ending ACL tears suffered by Laurin Mincy and Brene Moseley.

Marshall, who was also a second-team all-ACC selection last year, is Georgia Tech's leading score this year and the fifth leading scorer in the conference at 15.2 points per game. She is also the seventh best rebounder in the ACC at eight boards a game - not bad for a 5-foot-9-inch guard.

Meanwhile Maye is second in the conference in both assists (5.4 per game) and steals (3.2 per game), and Yellow Jacket freshman guard Brittany Jackson is the sixth best 3-point shooter in the conference, shooting at 40.8 percent from downtown.

So without Goodlett and quite a few other departing seniors, Georgia Tech, a team that began the year ranked No. 22/20, is hanging around the bottom of the ACC standings, already with more conference regular season losses than they suffered all of last year. But might they have enough strong guard play led by Marshall to be competitive against Maryland?

Against teams that are currently ranked, the Yellow Jackets are 0-7. They have lost by three to Syracuse (ranked only in the USA TODAY/ESPN poll at No. 23), by seven to No. 22/24 Florida State, by 21 to No. 11/19 UNC, by 10 to No. 13/12 Georgia, by 12 to No. 12/11 Purdue, by 17 to No. 9 Tennessee and by 33 to No. 4 Duke.

Out of those opponents, the ones that are closest to Maryland in both polls are Georgia, Purdue and Tennessee. So, if you want to go based on Georgia Tech's resume, expect the Terps' margin of victory to be somewhere in the lower teens on Sunday.

But regardless of the score, expect a hard-fought battle from Georgia Tech as they try to avenge last year's loss in the ACC tournament, just as Maryland avenged their 2011 loss in that tourney by sweeping the Yellow Jackets in 2011-12.