Sweet 16 Tale: #1 Kansas vs. #5 Maryland
- CoachingBill Self is one of the best coaches in college basketball. He replaced a legend in Roy Williams and has coached teams to the NCAA Tournament in 18 consecutive seasons, stretching back to his days in Tulsa. He has won a national championship with Kansas, in only his fifth season as their head coach, and has taken a team to the Sweet 16 a total of 11 times over his career, making it past that round seven times.Mark Turgeon has been to March Madness seven times in his 18-year career, with his best year being the 2005-06 season where he led Wichita State to the Sweet Sixteen. He is now back in the Sweet 16, but this is only Maryland’s second NCAA appearance since joining them five seasons ago. He has proven to be successful, but has yet to really make his mark in the tournament.
- OffenseWhen beating Austin Peay in the first round of the tournament, two stars scored over 20 points and two others added double-digits as well. Things looked to get tougher in the second round against UConn, but Kansas still put up 73 points in the game. Wayne Selden Jr. led the team in this game with 22 points while Perry Ellis scored 21 for the second consecutive game. That means three players have scored over 20 points in a tournament game this postseason, and the fact that Devonte Graham scored in double-digits means that six different players have scored double-digit points in the first two games of March Madness. This Jayhawks team has a lot of players who can beat you.The Terrapins only beat 12 seeded South Dakota State by five points and then hung a 13 point win on Hawaii, a possible tournament Cinderella team. The reason for the Terrapins big win over Hawaii was thanks to a well-rounded offense, led by Melo Trimble. After averaging 14.8 ppg through the season, he scored 19 against South Dakota State and 24 against Hawaii. In all, four starters scored in double-digits against Hawaii and this is a tough, balanced team.
- DefenseDefensively, the Jayhawks limited the UConn Huskies to 61 points and only 33.9 percent shooting in the Round of 32. While they gave up 37 points to the Huskies' two best stars, they kept the rest of the team to a minimum and outrebounded them 44-24 in the contest. Landen Lucas led the way, with 12 rebounds, 11 of them on the defensive side of the ball, along with three blocks. The other four starters pulled down an impressive 23 rebounds in the game, stepping up and dominating.The Terrapins survived a scare against South Dakota State because they gave up 74 points in the game to the 12 seed. If not for a Rasheed Sulaimon turnover in the final seconds of the game, Maryland could have lost that opening game. They allowed South Dakota’s Jake Layman to score a career-high 27 points and that is the kind of defensive performance that leads to losses. They played better against Hawaii, but that opening game gives Kansas something to think about.
- Bench DepthThe Jayhawks leading scorer in the Austin Peay game was a bench player in Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. In the UConn game, he was invisible, playing six minutes and scoring one point. Only four bench players played against UConn, and they only scored three points with five rebounds. While they remained invisible, they were not needed in the game, but Austin Peay proved they are ready when called on.The Terrapins only played three bench players in the win over Hawaii, and while they logged 31 minutes, they only scored four points, with two assists and five rebounds. When needed, it is Jared Nickens who can come off the bench with help. He averaged 5.5 ppg over the regular season and scored 14 in the win over South Dakota State.
The Jayhawks have a great veteran team with solid leadership and the skills to win it all this season. After averaging 89 points over the first two NCAA Tournament games, they are still a favorite to win it all this season. Perry Ellis has two 21-point games and there is little reason to think the Maryland Terrapins can stop him in the Sweet Sixteen round of March Madness. Maryland has the talent to win, but the Jayhawks are just a deeper, better team.