Maryland vs. Sienna

Ncaa Tournament

March 15, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht

The game

What: NCAA tournament East Regional first round

Site: MCI Center, Washington

Time: 10:10 p.m. (approximately)

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

Line: Maryland by 26

The teams

Maryland: No. 1 seed, 26-4; won ACC regular-season championship; 19th NCAA tournament appearance.

Siena: No. 16 seed, 17-18; won MAAC title and NCAA tournament play-in game after going 12-18 in regular season; third NCAA tournament appearance.

The backcourt

Senior Juan Dixon is the ACC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. Junior point guard Steve Blake is second in the nation in assists and is playing the best ball of his career. With 6-foot-7 point guard Prosper Karangwa and 6-5 Dwayne Archbold, Siena has an edge in size, but that's about it. Archbold leads the Saints in scoring (20.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.3). Karangwa is coming off a 31-point effort against Alcorn State.

Edge: Maryland.

The frontcourt

This is where the Terps should dominate, starting with 6-8 senior center Lonny Baxter, who could collect his 10th double double of the season. Sophomore 6-10 forward Chris Wilcox is an athlete who Siena probably cannot match up against. For Siena, 6-9 James Clinton and 6-8 Justin Miller draw the unenviable task of trying to contain Maryland's quicker, bulkier pair. Most of Siena's scoring comes from its backcourt, and that should not change tonight.

Edge: Maryland.

The bench

The Terps have basically ridden a three-man bench, but don't be surprised to see them go 10 or 11 players by the middle of the second half. Nicholas has given Maryland instant offense much of the season and has been a good defender in the Terps' three-guard alignment. Forward Tahj Holden and center Ryan Randle each bring 250 pounds into the paint. Backup guard Mark Price (9.0 ppg) has been Siena's scoring leader among the reserves, but C Brent Sniezyk and F Austin Andrews need to do more than just show up.

Edge: Maryland

The coaches

Maryland's Gary Williams has taken the Terps to their ninth straight NCAA tournament, and after guiding them to their first Final Four a year ago, Williams has the program riding high. And after losing for the first time in seven weeks to North Carolina State at last week's ACC tournament, Williams should have no trouble getting Maryland refocused. Rob Lanier revived the Saints nicely at the end of his first season, which included a slew of close conference losses. But Lanier is in over his head against a team with much more talent and a coach with much more experience.

Edge: Maryland.

Key for Maryland

Be patient and continue to work the ball inside to Baxter and Wilcox, even after Siena goes to a zone defense with all of its tall, long-armed players. Use its quickness and athleticism on the boards and in the transition game, but be content to grind down Siena with the bigger, stronger players on the blocks.

Key for Siena

The Saints will have to weather Maryland's full-court pressure, as the Terps surely will use it to try to take Siena out of the game early. Since they lack the quickness and overall size to beat the Terps on the boards, the Saints will need to shoot the lights out to flirt with an upset. That means Archbold and Karangwa must have huge games.

Bottom line

Siena has put together an inspiring late-season run, but there is a reason a 16th seed has never knocked off a top seed in the opening round. The Terps were the class of one of the nation's top conferences, and they have won 36 of their past 42 games dating to last season and are bent on returning to the Final Four. Maryland should win by at least 25.

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