Maryland vs. Xavier

Ncaa Tournament

March 23, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht

Today's game

What: NCAA tournament South Regional second round

Site: Gaylord Entertainment Center, Nashville, Tenn.

Time: 4:40 p.m.

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

Line: Maryland by 2

The teams

Maryland: No. 6 seed, 20-9; finished second in Atlantic Coast Conference, lost to North Carolina in ACC tournament quarterfinals; beat No. 11 seed UNC-Wilmington, 75-73, in first round, 20th NCAA tournament appearance.

Xavier: No. 3 seed, 26-5, highest seed ever in 15 NCAA tournament appearances; lost to Temple in Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals; beat No. 14 seed Troy State, 71-59, in first round.

Backcourt

Maryland: Senior point guard Steve Blake, Maryland's lone returning starter, owns school records for starts and assists and is coming off a foul-plagued effort against UNC-Wilmington. Senior guard Drew Nicholas, Maryland's leading scorer, has made two-game winning shots in his past four games.

Xavier: Guards Lionel Chalmers, 6 feet, and Dedrick Finn, 6-1, give up size to Maryland, but make up for it with the ability to shoot, penetrate and work the ball down low to David West and center Anthony Myles. The Terps' ability to match up with swingman Romain Sato could be the key game-within-a-game.

Edge: Even.

Frontcourt

Maryland: Senior center Ryan Randle broke a recent slump with his best effort in a month by producing 15 points and a game-high 16 rebounds in the first round. The Terps badly need another performance like that to advance. Senior forward Tahj Holden, who is coming off a rough outing, will need help trying to contain Xavier All-America power forward West.

Xavier: West had a subpar game against Troy State and should be the best player on the floor today. The USBWA National Player of the Year passes and rebounds as well as any post player in America. Myles, a 6-9 center, is not as polished but still is very effective.

Edge: Xavier.

Bench

Maryland: The Terps will go to as many as five backups, led by freshman point guard John Gilchrist, senior guard Calvin McCall and junior center Jamar Smith. Gilchrist affects the tempo the most with his ability to drive to the basket and pressure on defense. Smith's rebounding will be needed to offset West.

Xavier: Sophomore swingman Keith Jackson and freshman forward Will Caudle lead a Musketeers bench that doesn't go as deep and usually doesn't have to. Jackson is an exceptional athlete.

Edge: Maryland.

Coaches

Maryland: Gary Williams has won 501 games in 25 seasons, been to two Final Fours, won a national championship, and has guided the Terps to seven straight 20-victory seasons, 10 straight NCAA tournaments and is within one victory of his seventh trip to the Sweet 16 over that span.

Xavier: Thad Matta is 76-19 in his third year as a head coach and is 52-11 in his second year with the Musketeers, who are 2-1 in NCAA tournament play under him. Matta's 26 victories this year are the most ever for a second-year coach at Xavier, surpassing Lew Hirt's 24-8 record in the 1947-48 season.

Edge: Maryland.

Keys to victory

Maryland: The Terps must do enough in the post to counter what could be a monster game from West. Maryland could end up being forced to play lots of zone defense again. Randle showed more aggressiveness, although his defensive weaknesses could be exposed by West and Myles. Holden must bounce back from a poor game on Friday. The senior backcourt must carry the Terps. Nicholas' confidence could not be higher.

Xavier: Go right at the Terps with their bread and butter, which means feed West early and often. The Terps will have much trouble covering him one-on-one, and West is an excellent passer who can draw double teams and find open shooters. Get guard/forward Sato involved, since he presents the Terps with potentially their biggest matchup problem. With four players who average double-figure scoring, the Musketeers have the kind of balance that could prove to be a major headache for Maryland. If the Terps go to a zone, guards like Chalmers and Finn are still quick enough to penetrate and break down the defense.

Bottom line

The Terps received the kindest draw among the No. 6 seeds, and Maryland has enough of the winning pedigree and experience, especially in its backcourt, that could push it into its seventh Sweet 16 in 10 seasons. But unless Blake and Nicholas can dominate for some lengthy stretches, the Terps are most likely headed home. West and Sato are that good.

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