Representing the # 1 and # 5 seeds of the South Region, the 32-4 Kansas Jayhawks and the 27-8 Maryland Terrapins will meet in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday night. Maryland advanced with a 13 point win over Hawaii. Maryland was trailing by 2 points with 10 minutes left in the game when they went on a 14-0 run propelling them to the 73-60 victory. Kansas led wire to wire in their 73-61 victory over Connecticut and enters this matchup on a 16 game winning streak.
Maryland had 4 different players score in double-digits against Hawaii but it was sophomore guard Melo Trimble who led the way with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Rasheed Sulaimon had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while Diamond Stone also had 14 points to go along with 1 steal and 1 block. Defensively, they did a good job limiting Hawaii to just 33% shooting while forcing 5 steals and blocking 7 shots. Center Damonte Dodd came off the bench to play 16 minutes and he had 5 of the teams 7 blocks. The negatives were that they shot 1-18 from three-point range and lost both the rebounding and turnover battles. They grabbed 36 rebounds while Hawaii had 42 and they turned the ball over 11 times while Hawaii only committed 9. Maryland also dominated from the free-throw line making 28 of their 31 attempts while Hawaii made only 10 of their 15 attempts.
Kansas advanced past UConn behind the stellar play of Wayne Selden Jr. and Perry Ellis. Selden Jr. had 22 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists while Ellis had 21 points and 8 rebounds. Ellis passed Kirk Hinrich for 10th on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,767 points. Overall, Kansas is 4th in the nation in two-point shooting percentage and 8th in three-point shooting percentage. Defensively, they did a poor job forcing turnovers as UConn only committed 6 and the UConn shot 45.5 percent from three-point range as they made 10 of their 22 attempts. Kansas dominated the rebounding battle 44-24 but lost the turnover battle badly by forcing only 6 while committing 13. They also did a much better job getting to the line than UConn as they took 22 free throws and Connecticut only took 11.
Kansas went 23-10-1 against the spread this year including 21-8-1 as the favorite. Maryland went 16-17 against the spread this year including 2-4 as the underdog. The last time Maryland advanced past the Sweet Sixteen was the last time they played Kansas in the tournament which was 14 years ago. In 2002 these 2 teams met in the Final Four with Maryland winning and eventually going on to win the national championship. One thing Kansas has to be concerned with is their free throw frequency allowed. It is the only major defensive statistic that Kansas is ranked in the bottom half of Division I teams and they already had an issue with it in this tournament. Even though Kansas defeated the 16th seeded Austin Peay Governors in the first round, they committed 27 fouls allowing Austin Peay to take 37 free throws.
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