Maryland vs. Syracuse

Ncaa Regional Phoenix

March 20, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht

Pepsi Center, Denver

5:40 p.m.

Chs. 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Maryland by 2 1/2

The teams

Maryland (20-11)

The Terps have won six straight games, including their first ACC tournament in 20 years. They advanced to the second round with an 86-83 victory over UTEP.

Syracuse (22-7)

The Orangemen have won six of their past seven games, including wins over Pittsburgh and Connecticut. They advanced to the second round by beating BYU, 80-75.

Backcourts

Maryland

Sophomore point guard John Gilchrist is coming off an 18-point effort against UTEP and is averaging 22.5 points, six assists and 5.8 rebounds in his past four games. Sophomore shooting guard Chris McCray scored a team-high 19 points against UTEP and is averaging 14.6 points in his past five games.

Syracuse

Sophomore Gerry McNamara averages 17.1 points and 3.8 assists, and is coming off a 43-point effort against BYU. He is one of the best free-throw shooters in the country. Freshman Demetris Nichols has taken over for the departed Billy Edelin and is averaging 4.1 points. Josh Pace averages 9.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Edge: Maryland

Frontcourts

Maryland

Senior center Jamar Smith is playing his best basketball of the season. Over the past three games, Smith is shooting 53.3 percent and averaging 20.7 points and 9.0 rebounds. Sophomore forward Travis Garrison is a skilled shot blocker who is averaging 11.5 point and six rebounds in the past four games. Sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley has scored in double figures 21 times.

Syracuse

The Orangemen have the best frontcourt player in this matchup in 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Hakim Warrick, who scores inside and outside and attacks the glass as well as anyone. He averages 19.6 points and 8.6 rebounds. Center Craig Forth has started 100 games in his career, and is serviceable in the post. He averages 5.7 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Edge: Syracuse

Benches

Maryland

This is where the Terps could ultimately decide today's game. Freshman guards D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones have made major contributions during Maryland's 6-0 run. Freshman forward Ekene Ibekwe (4.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg) came up large in the UTEP victory with four blocked shots and six rebounds in the second half.

Syracuse

The loss of Billy Edelin weakened the Orangemen's bench considerably. Guard Louie McCroskey (3.8 ppg) is shooting 23.1 percent in his 14 minutes of playing time per game. Senior center Jeremy McNeil is mainly there to give fouls and grab a rebound or two. Freshman forward Terrence Roberts (2.0 ppg) is promising but untested.

Edge: Maryland

Coaches

Maryland

Gary Williams, 522-292, is in his 26th year overall and 15th at Maryland. He has his most inexperienced team within a victory of his eighth Sweet 16 in 11 seasons. Williams is two years removed from his only national championship and just won his first ACC tournament.

Syracuse

Jim Boeheim, 675-233, is in his 28th season at Syracuse and is tied for 18th on the all-time Division I victory list with Connecticut's Jim Calhoun and ex-Louisville coach Denny Crum. Boeheim has taken Syracuse to 27 NCAA tournaments, and he's averaged 24.2 wins. He brought home his first NCAA crown last year.

Edge: Maryland

Keys to victory

Maryland

Cover McNamara with guard Chris McCray and waves of help, don't let Warrick dominate in the post, and don't panic in the face of Syracuse's fabled 2-3 zone defense. Maryland should benefit from having a strong nine-man rotation.

Syracuse

Take the air out of the ball, keep the game in the 60s, and try to frustrate the Terps with a slower tempo. Maryland is unlikely to let McNamara and Warrick combine for anything close to 63 points as they did against BYU. That means a guy like guard/forward Josh Pace must step up to make a difference.

Bottom line

Maryland is working the ball inside, taking smart shots and making key free throws during this winning streak, and the Terps need to keep it up. If they don't revert to their old sloppy ways on offense, they should move on to Phoenix. It's hard to envision a defense that has been as scrappy as the Terps' allowing a depleted squad such as Syracuse to light them up.

Maryland, 76-70

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