Today's scouting Report

Ncaa Tournament

March 15, 2007|By HEATHER A. DINICH

Maryland vs. Davidson

What / / NCAA tournament Midwest Regional, first round

Site / / HSBC Arena, Buffalo, N.Y.

Time / / 12:20 p.m.

TV/Radio / / Chs. 13, 9/1300 AM, 105.7 FM

Line / / Maryland by 7

The teams

No. 4 seed Maryland / / 24-8; ACC tied for third (10-6); 22nd NCAA tournament appearance.

No. 13 seed Davidson / / 29-4; Southern Conference champions (17-1), 15th NCAA tournament appearance.

The frontcourts

Maryland junior James Gist and senior Ekene Ibekwe have the size and athleticism to take control and block shots, but need to stay out of early foul trouble. Rebounding will have to be a team effort, especially with all the perimeter shots Davidson likes to take. The Wildcats' starters are junior Boris Meno, a 6-foot-8 forward from Paris, who averages 8.1 rebounds, and Thomas Sander, a 6-8 junior from Ohio who makes 49.5 percent of his field goals.

Edge / / Maryland

The backcourts

Statistically, the Wildcats have one of the top combinations in the country, as Stephen Curry set the NCAA freshman record for most three-pointers in a season, and point guard Jason Richards is second nationally in assists per game (7.3). Maryland senior D.J. Strawberry's experience at point guard made him a better all-around player and ball-handler, but his most important job today might be on the defensive end. Freshman standout Greivis Vasquez played a prominent role in his team's second-half surge this season, but he hasn't been as consistent as Curry. Both teams played Duke, though, and the Wildcats made just three of 19 three-point shots in a 75-47 loss while the Terps swept the Blue Devils.

Edge / / Maryland

Benches

Both have players who could be considered sixth starters. For Maryland, it's freshman guard Eric Hayes. For Davidson, it's forward Andrew Lovedale, who has averaged 18.2 minutes. There's no way Davidson can match the Terps' height (7-1 Will Bowers) or physical play (6-8, 250-pound Bambale Osby) off the bench. Osby is shooting 55.8 percent from the field, and Hayes is making 91.2 percent of his free throws.

Edge / / Maryland

Coaches

Bob McKillop has graduated all 54 of his players, but in 17 previous seasons he's never advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament. Gary Williams has graduated 18 percent of his players, but won a national championship. Nobody is taking final exams today, though, just playing basketball. Williams has a 7-3 record against McKillop, including a 78-63 win over the Wildcats in 2005 in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Edge / / Maryland

Keys for Maryland

Maryland needs to fluster this team with its press, get the guards involved in the rebounding and play tight defense on Curry and Richards. The Terps have to stay within their offense and work the ball inside-out.

Bottom line

Maryland is a bigger, stronger team that seems genuine in its seriousness to prove that its loss to Miami in the first round of the ACC tournament does not reflect where its postseason is headed. The Terps proved they were capable of something special this season when they knocked off No. 1 seed North Carolina during the regular season, and a team from the Southern Conference shouldn't be the one to send them home early - again.

Prediction

This is a team Maryland is capable of beating, but it should be a tight game because of the talent in Davidson's backcourt.

Maryland 82, Davidson 70

[Heather A. Dinich]

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