College Basketball Pick
The preseason AP Top 25 had Maryland at No. 3 and Kansas at No. 4. While it hasn’t been the smoothest seasons for one of these teams, they both made it to the Sweet 16, which is all a team can ask for at this point.
Kansas was expected to get some resistance from Connecticut last round, but the Jayhawks weren’t fazed and continued their dominant run, now at 16 straight wins. They’ve been the favorite to win the Tournament from the start and that thought hasn’t changed yet. They rather easily took down the Huskies in a Game many thought could give Kansas problems.
The story hasn’t been quite the same for Maryland, who at one point was the No. 1 team in the country, but fell down the ranks in the last month and that resulted in a 5-seed. And yet, the Terps are here after a couple of wins over a 12- and 13-seed. They got a scare against South Dakota State, but left with a five-point win and then battled with Hawaii for 25 minutes before finally breaking loose in the second half en route to a 13-point win.
These are two of the most talented squads in the country and this will be nothing but a heavyweight matchup of multiple future NBA players.
When discussing Kansas, the first thing that has to be mentioned is its trio in the backcOurt, which is probably the best in the nation. Frank Mason had a bad Game against UConn going 1-of-8 from the field, but his teammates picked him up as Wayne Selden went for 22 and Devonte’ Graham had 13. And that’s exactly how the Jayhawks have been all season. If one guy struggles, the other two will step up and that’s why it’s so hard for them to have a bad Game as a team.
And that doesn’t even include Perry Ellis down low who was unstoppable himself against the Huskies with 21 points.
Starting with the backcOurt matchup, the Terps could have some issues if Melo Trimble doesn’t reach 20-plus points. And at this rate, there’s no reason to expect he’ll find his form from outside, now 2-of-17 in the last three Games. Rasheed Sulaimon is a solid shooting guard, but isn’t often a guy that Maryland can rely on. Their lack of decent guards on the bench is also a problem, especially if Trimble gets into foul trouble, which he did in the first round.
It’ll be interesting to see how the teams match up, but Maryland will more than likely have Jake LAyman on Wayne Selden. The quicker — but smaller — Selden could be an issue for LAyman and the Terps.
In the frontcOurt, Ellis should be able to match whatever Robert Carter and Diamond Stone do. Stone dominated Hawaii early on with 10 points right off the bat, but only finished with 14 in the Game. Kansas has the bodies in LAnden LUcas and Jamari Traylor to limit what Stone can do in the post and Ellis can deal with Carter by himself.
For the Terps to win this Game, they’ll need another big effort from someone like LAyman, much like his 27 points in the first round. He’ll have the size advantage on whoever guards him so the chances will be there for that to happen. If not, there is still Carter and Sulaimon to go off. But these will only give Maryland chances in the end.
If Kansas has a good Game, it may be too much anyway. The Jayhawks are playing too well right now for a team without a bench and too inconsistent to beat them.
Our Pick – Kansas -7