March Madness Pick
Due to Friday’s upsets, Sunday’s slate doesn’t have as many big names playing. But the Game between Maryland and Hawaii can’t be overlooked. Maryland was the preseason No. 1 team in the country, but a cloud of disappointment has surrounded the team for the last month or so.
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The Terrapins were hoping to get back on track in their first-round Game, but ended up closing the Game looking like an inexperienced squad. The Game looked to be over with about Four minutes to go, but Maryland let South Dakota State back in and the Terps ended up winning by only five points and had to close the Game without Melo Trimble, who fouled out. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but they eventually got a steal on the final possession to seal the win.
Hawaii had an interesting first Game to say the least against California. The Golden Bears lost an assistant coach early in the week and then their leading scorer broke his hand in practice the day before. And right before the Game, starter Jabari Bird was having back issues and unexpectedly didn’t even play. That all led to Hawaii having the advantage almost the entire Game, even as the 13-seed. The Rainbow Warriors have all the tools to give Maryland some trouble.
Hawaii challenged itself in non-Conference play, losing to Oklahoma (84-81) and at Texas Tech (82-74), but also had a dominating win over Northern Iowa. Already ineligible for next year’s Tournament, it’s win or bust for a lot of these players.
Tensions likely remain high with Maryland after barely closing out the last Game. With limited depth, the Terrapins will need their talent to shine in this matchup.
That starts with point guard Melo Trimble, who only played 28 minutes and fouled out in the first Game, while also not making a three. Trimble has struggled all season from range and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change suddenly in the Tournament. When he’s not making shots, Maryland can be beat by anyone.
To cover this Game, Maryland will need the guys outside of Trimble to step up again. Jake LAyman scored 27 points in the first Game, which was a good sign for the senior after only averaging 11.7 on the season. But elsewhere, Robert Carter, Diamond Stone and Rasheed Sulaimon need more than a combined 18 points. This entire team has been a model of inconsistency throughout the season and playing like that against Hawaii won’t end with a friendly result.
The Warriors are led by two guys that can go head-to-head with anyone on Maryland. Point guard Roderick Bobbitt will have the task of matching anything Trimble does and with his 6-3 frame, could do just that. Bobbitt was 1-of-8 from 3 in the first Game, but still scored 17 to go with seven boards and Four assists.
The most important piece for Hawaii, though, remains leading scorer Stefan Jankovic. He seemingly battles foul trouble every Game and only played 18 minutes against Cal, although still scored 16 points. The left-hander is a stretch-4 that will draw the matchup of either Carter or Stone. Jankovic has the ability to beat both of those guys on the offensive end, but he could also easily get in foul trouble again, especially if Stone attacks him on the other end.
Much like Maryland, Hawaii won its first Game by getting more production from glue guys like guard Quincy Smith (19 points) and Stefan Jovanovic (28 minutes off the bench).
This Game could be decided solely on what Trimble does or if Jankovic once again gets into foul trouble. But as seen last Game, it’ll be hard to trust the Terrapins with a spread sitting in the 6- to 7-point range.
Our Pick – Maryland -6.5