Maryland vs. Indiana

April 01, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht

Prediction: When your best ballhandler fails to bring his best stuff for three consecutive games and you keep winning, it's your year. When your best post player barely performs because of foul trouble and you still beat a great Kansas team by scoring 97 points, it's your year. When your best player elevates his game the way Juan Dixon has for the past three weeks, it's your year. With sheer will and a talent advantage, the Terps will roll in the second half and cut down the nets after winning, 86-72.

5 THINGS TO WATCH

Dixon's scoring spree

Maryland guard Juan Dixon matched his career high with 33 points against Kansas and has scored 137 through five games. He probably won't reach the NCAA tournament scoring record held by Michigan's Glen Rice (184 points in 1989), but another big game could move him into the top five.

Sophomore showdown

Maryland's Chris Wilcox showed the basketball world his NBA potential by dominating All-American Drew Gooden on Saturday night. Indiana's Jared Jeffries will not make the mistake of talking down to Wilcox in any pre-game interviews. This could be the best one-on-one battle to watch. Both are 6-foot-10 sophomores with unlimited potential.

Long-distance 'D'

Maryland has shown a willingness and determination to defend against the three-point shot at times this season, and the Terps need to patrol the wings alertly tonight. Indiana is shooting a sizzling 52.9 percent from three-point range in the NCAAs. Maryland probably needs to limit the Hoosiers to under 40 percent, or at least limit their long-range looks.

Can Baxter rebound?

Terps center Lonny Baxter rarely has been as ineffective this season as he was against Kansas, when he took himself out of the action with foul trouble, played a season-low 14 minutes and scored a season-low four points. The senior is a good bet to erase that with a strong showing in his final collegiate game.

Free-throw prowess

The Terps are in position to set the all-time record for free-throw shooting percentage in NCAA tournament history. Although Maryland stumbled at the line in the second half of the Kansas victory, the Terps still have made 82.5 percent of their free throws in the tournament. No Final Four team has ever finished the tournament with a free-throw percentage above 84.4 percent.

Center

Lonny Baxter vs. Jarrad Odle

Lonny Baxter, Maryland: Baxter is the reigning East Regional Most Valuable Player, and he has some atoning to do after watching most of Saturday night's victory over Kansas from the bench in foul trouble and scoring a season-low four points. He still managed to grab seven rebounds in only 14 minutes. The bet here is that the senior from Silver Spring will bounce back with a vintage effort.

Jarrad Odle, Indiana: Like Baxter, Odle is 6 feet 8, but the senior also gives up nearly 40 pounds to Baxter. Odle is not the classic pivot man, does not rebound with Baxter's consistency and lacks Baxter's quick feet in the post. Odle, averaging 8.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in the tournament, shares his position with backup Jeff Newton, who is the more agile and dangerous of the two.

Edge: Maryland.

Power forward

Chris Wilcox vs. Jared Jeffries

Chris Wilcox, Maryland: He did it again. In a huge game against Kansas with the season on the line, while facing All-American Drew Gooden no less, Wilcox put some recent inconsistent performances behind him with his best performance of the tournament. Wilcox's pure athleticism as a finisher, rebounder and shot-blocker are a headache against most teams, and the Hoosiers are no different.

Jared Jeffries, Indiana: The heart and soul of the Hoosiers was the Big Ten Conference's Player of the Year. Jeffries has scored in double figures 30 times and has led the team in scoring and rebounding all season. He is equally comfortable taking the ball to the basket and shooting from medium range. Look for the Terps to go right at him and try to send him to the bench with foul trouble.

Edge: Indiana.

Small forward

Byron Mouton vs. Kyle Hornsby

Byron Mouton, Maryland: The senior from Rayne, La., has not been scoring with the consistency he showed during the regular season, but he has helped Maryland in other ways during the tournament. Through five NCAA games, he is tied for second on the team with 5.2 rebounds a game and leads the Terps with 13 offensive rebounds. He also has scored in double figures in two of the past three games.

Kyle Hornsby, Indiana: Mouton needs to bring good defense to the floor tonight, especially on the wing, where Hornsby is a dangerous three-point shooter. He leads the Hoosiers with nine three-pointers in the tournament and is shooting 47.4 percent from beyond the arc. He also has a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the NCAAs, and can put the ball on the floor and penetrate.

Edge: Maryland.

Shooting guard

Juan Dixon vs. Dane Fife

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