Maryland mirrors Michigan NCAA TOURNAMENT

March 21, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

WICHITA, Kan. -- The University of Michigan players didn't watch much of 10th-seeded Maryland's 95-87 upset of second-seeded Massachusetts in the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional on Saturday at the Kansas Coliseum.

So the third-seeded, 11th-ranked Wolverines might need to watch a few tapes of the upstart Terrapins to learn some tendencies for their Sweet 16 matchup Friday night at Reunion Arena in Dallas. As for Maryland's mind-set, all Michigan has to do is look into its own past.

"It reminds me of when we were playing Duke in the [1992 championship game at the] Final Four," junior center Juwan Howard said Saturday night after the Wolverines beat sixth-seeded, 20th-ranked Texas, 84-79. "Everyone knew about them with their tradition in the ACC, and nobody gave us much of a chance."

The analogy isn't perfect: The Fab Five freshman recruiting class of Michigan's was the most celebrated in the sport's history, and more than a few believed the Wolverines had the talent to beat the more experienced Blue Devils. (They didn't, and also lost to North Carolina in last year's final.)

But the message is clear: Michigan (23-7) won't underestimate Maryland as Massachusetts (28-7) might have. The Minutemen wound up surrendering a season-high number of points to the Terps, who shot 19 of 27 in the second half. Maryland (18-11) scored 38 points in a little more than 10 minutes, turning a 54-44 deficit into an 82-68 lead.

"They're going to come out strong and hard," said Michigan forward Jimmy King. "They're young and they're fearless, sort of the way we were a couple of years ago. They're going to be relentless."

The Wolverines will have only a cursory scouting report on Maryland until later today, but they've seen the Terps get in the face of some pretty good ACC teams such as Duke and North Carolina. Like the rest of the country, Michigan knows all about Joe Smith.

"I've seen them on ESPN a couple of times," said Howard, who was Michigan's most dominant player in Wichita, scoring 62 points and pulling down 27 rebounds in victories over Pepperdine (78-74 in overtime) and Texas. "I know that Joe Smith's a great young player. No, make that a great player. But they have nothing to lose, and they're on a roll."

Said junior All-American Jalen Rose: "Maryland's in the ACC. They've been in tough games all year. They're a young team, but we're still going to respect them. We've got to get ready for a tough game."

Exactly what the Terps think of their Friday night matchup with the Wolverines isn't certain, because Maryland left town before the Wolverines took care of the Longhorns. But as Gary Williams said yesterday of the matchup: "I'm sure they're not afraid of us, but we're not afraid of them."

Maryland returned to a virtually empty College Park campus -- school starts again today -- but there's the anticipation of the Terps and Williams going to the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine years. Still, Williams doesn't want to get too carried away.

"I'm excited, I'm happy, but you don't feel much different than you did after a great win -- like Georgia Tech to start the ACC," said Williams, who is turning understatement into an art form. "You don't realize the importance of a game like yesterday because you have more games to play."

And Michigan coach Steve Fisher, who said he has watched the Terps on television this season "as a fan," won't have a good feel for them from the tapes until today at the earliest.

But the Wolverines know Maryland's mind-set. All Michigan has to do is look at its own, circa 1992.

"There are some similarities," said Fisher.

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