Terps scouting report

March 15, 2001|By BRENT JONES

No. 3 Maryland (21-10 ) vs. No. 14 George Mason (18-11)

What: First round, NCAA tournament West Regional

Where: BSU Pavilion, Boise, Idaho

When: Today, approximately 3:02 p.m.

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

How they got here: The Terps advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals, where they lost to Duke, 84-82. Before that, Maryland had won six in a row, five of them by double digits, which propelled the Terps to a third seed. George Mason won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament with a 35-33 win over UNC-Wilmington, the second-lowest scoring game since the implementation of the shot clock in 1986. Overall, the Patriots have won five of their past seven.

Conference records: Maryland, 10-6 ACC. George Mason, 11-5 CAA.

Rankings: Maryland is ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll and is one of 12 teams that have remained in the Top 25 all season. George Mason is unranked.

Coaches: Gary Williams is 238-138 in 12 seasons at Maryland and 445-266 in 23 seasons overall. George Mason coach Jim Larranaga is 65-51 in four seasons at George Mason, 263-220 in 17 years overall.

NCAA tournament records: Maryland is 22-17 in 17 appearances and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999. George Mason is 0-2 in the tournament, with its last appearance in 1999.

Key matchups: George Mason has two serious threats, and the success of the team rides on how 30-year-old center George Evans and guard Erik Herring play. Maryland's Lonny Baxter will face Evans much of the day, making for the most intriguing matchup between two heavyweight bangers.

What Maryland has to do to win: Jump out early and put doubt in the heads of the George Mason players that they can hang with the Terps. Going down in the post to Baxter will force Evans to play defense, which could hurt him on the offensive end. Steve Blake will have to handle the pressure of George Mason guard Tremaine Price. If he does, Blake should add to his ACC-leading assist total by creating open opportunities for Terence Morris and Juan Dixon.

What George Mason has to do to win: Have a big shooting game from Herring, who is converting 40 percent of his three-pointers. George Mason needs to run just enough to get Herring some three-point chances in transition, but not enough that the game turns into a track meet. Evans, who will also need to get his touches in the paint, is averaging 18.1 points, while Herring is scoring 15.9 a game. If those two don't carry the load, it could turn into a long day for the Patriots.

Bottom line: The Patriots were blown out in 1999 against Cincinnati, their last appearance in the tournament. But six players return from that team and come into this game confident that the Patriots can pull the upset. Confidence will only go so far because Maryland is playing its best ball of the season lately despite the setback against Duke, and the Terps have too much depth to lose in the first round.

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