NCAA Midwest Regional

March 16, 2000|By Jamison Hensley

No. 3 Maryland (24-9) vs. No. 14 Iona (20-10)

What: First round, NCAA tournament Midwest Regional

Where: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis

When: Tonight, 7: 55

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)

How they got here: The Terps advanced to their first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final in 16 years, where they lost to Duke, to earn a top-four seeding for the third straight season. Iona started 1-3 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference before winning 14 of its past 15 games. The Gaels claimed their second MAAC tournament championship in three years by beating host Siena, 84-80.

Conference records: The Terps were 11-5 in the ACC. Iona was 13-5 in the MAAC.

Rankings: No. 17 Maryland has been ranked for 17 straight weeks. The Gaels are unranked.

Coaches: Gary Williams is 216-127 in 11 seasons at Maryland and 423-255 in 22 seasons overall. Jeff Ruland, a former Iona standout, is 36-24 in his second season at his alma mater and overall.

NCAA tournament records: Maryland has a 21-16 record in 16 appearances and has advanced to the regional semifinals under Williams in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999. Iona, which is 1-5 in the tournament, won its only game in 1980 when Ruland was a player. But the Gaels' five NCAA losses have been by a total of 11 points.

Key matchups: Tempo could play a major factor, and Maryland point guard Steve Blake will have to control Iona's Jason Young and vice versa. Inserted into the starting lineup in January, Young is the primary reason for the Gaels' 14-1 finish, but has yet to meet anyone the caliber of Blake. Inside, the Terps' Lonny Baxter will post up against the lanky Nakiea Miller, who could finish with more bruises than defensive stops.

What Maryland has to do to win: Feed the ball inside to Baxter, who could score in bunches against the undersized Gaels. If Iona gambles by doubling or triple-teaming the post, Terence Morris and Juan Dixon have to hit the open shots from the wings or create off the dribble. They also have to adjust to possibly being without forward Danny Miller.

What Iona has to do to win: Try to push the tempo and get easy baskets in transition. The Gaels have four perimeter-minded starters, led by MAAC Player of the Year Tariq Kirksay, who like to slash to the basket. Iona, which has only three players 6 feet 8 or taller, will be pressed to crack Maryland in the half court.

Bottom line: Iona has had a knack of keeping it close in its previous NCAA tournament appearances, but the Gaels don't match up well with the Terrapins. Although Maryland gained a reputation of playing down to its nonconference opponents in December (remember close wins over Winthrop and George Mason and the George Washington loss), the Terps turned it up a notch during the ACC season and have too much talent for Iona to handle one-on-one.

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