Maryland vs. Wisconsin

NCAA Tournament

March 17, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht

The game

What: NCAA tournament East Regional second round.

Site: MCI Center, Washington

Time: 5 p.m. (approximately)

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

Line: Maryland by 13 1/2

The teams

Maryland: No. 1 seed, 27-4; finished with their best regular season ever and a 15-1 mark in the ACC; 19th NCAA appearance.

Wisconsin: No. 8 seed, 19-12; finished 11-5 and in a four-way tie for the Big Ten regular-season title; sixth NCAA appearance.

The backcourt

Maryland's Steve Blake is playing as well as any point guard in the tournament, Juan Dixon bounced back from a subpar ACC tournament with authority against Siena, and backup Drew Nicholas continues to be instant offense off the bench. Wisconsin's Kirk Penney is big, strong and can shoot as well as anyone in the Big Ten. Devin Harris is an excellent second option, and Travon Davis will hurt you if you let him roam freely.

Edge: Maryland

The frontcourt

Both teams have good size up front, but Maryland looks to be superior athletically. Lonny Baxter and Chris Wilcox bring a combination of muscle and leaping ability that has been lethal around the glass. Wilcox is probably due for a big game after producing three so-so efforts in a row. Wisconsin forward Charlie Wills doesn't get to the foul line as much as a big man should, but he also shoots better from the outside than most big men. Center Dave Mader is primarily a defensive presence.

Edge: Maryland

The bench

Maryland's three-man bench rotation of center Ryan Randle, forward Tahj Holden and Nicholas gives opponents problems from different angles. Randle has some of the best points-per-minute production of any backup in the nation. Holden picked up for Wilcox nicely against Siena. For Wisconsin, guard Freddie Owens is a 37 percent shooter from three-point range, and freshman forward Mike Wilkinson has been steady as a scorer and rebounder.

Edge: Maryland

The coaches

Although this is his first NCAA tournament, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan is no stranger to winning big games. He won four Division III national crowns at Wisconsin-Platteville and turned around a Wisconsin team that started this season 1-4, as the Badgers shared their first conference championship in 55 years. Gary Williams has Maryland in its ninth consecutive NCAA tournament, and is going for his sixth Sweet 16 appearance with the Terps.

Edge: Maryland

Key for Maryland

The Terps must find a way to contain Penney, which means Byron Mouton must produce another outstanding defensive effort, and he matches up physically with the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Penney, who is the heart of the Badgers. Maryland also has to match Wisconsin's commitment on defense, where the Terps have stumbled at times of late.

Key for Wisconsin

Do what it does best. The Badgers are superb at setting screens and springing three-point shooters into the open, and they will have to grind away with excellent fundamentals to contain a potent Maryland offense and counter the Terps' bulk advantage inside. The Badgers will need big games from Penney, Harris and Davis.

Bottom line

Now that the opening-round jitters are behind them, the Terps should be looser and more confident, and are probably a good bet to play with fire on defense. Maryland has too many answers inside and outside, and should wear down the Badgers in the second half and move on to Syracuse.

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