What: First round, NCAA West RegionalWhere: Arco Arena...

March 12, 1998|By Paul McMullen

What: First round, NCAA West Regional

Where: Arco Arena, Sacramento, Calif.

When: Today, 2: 42 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9

How they got here: With a schedule rated the toughest in the nation and a third-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland was an obvious at-large selection. Utah State won the Big West Conference tournament, beating Long Beach State, Cal State-Fullerton and Pacific by a combined 32 points.

Conference records: The Terps were 10-6 in the ACC; the Aggies were 13-3 in the Big West.

Rankings: Maryland is No. 20. Utah State was among those receiving votes in this week's Associated Press poll.

Coaches: Gary Williams is 162-111 in nine seasons at Maryland, and 369-239 in 20 seasons overall. Larry Eustachy is 98-52 in five seasons at Utah State, and 159-85 in eight seasons overall.

NCAA tournament records: Maryland is 17-14 in 14 previous appearances. The Terps reached the Midwest final in 1975, and regional semifinals in 1985, 1994 and 1995. They lost in the first round the past two seasons. Utah State is making its 12th appearance, but first since 1988. The Aggies haven't won an NCAA game since 1970, when they reached the West final.

Key matchups: The Aggies play a three-guard lineup, and since their center is 6 feet 6, they must deny Obinna Ekezie the ball. Maryland, meanwhile, must stop point guard Marcus Saxon from penetrating. Will Williams put Laron Profit on him? Or will Williams go earlier than usual to his 3-2 zone?

NTC What Maryland has to do to win: Play as hard as Utah State, shake its bad memories of the past two NCAA tournaments, and make its free throws. The Terps shot a season-low (five of 13) in the ACC semifinal loss to North Carolina. Terrell Stokes has done a solid job running the Terps the past month, and he must do the same.

What Utah State has to do to win: Limit Maryland to one shot, and possibly take more three-pointers than usual. The Aggies are one of the most proficient teams in the nation beyond the arc, where they've made 43.5 percent, but they attempt fewer than 10 a game. Eustachy said his team will do what it always does, take the ball to the basket.

Bottom line: The Aggies are delighted to be here. The Terps have heard people tell them that they're going to beat Arizona in the Sweet 16, but they sound as if they are focused on Utah State, and Utah State alone.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

No. 4 Maryland (19-10) vs. No. 13 Utah State (25-7)

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