Maryland vs. Butler

Ncaa Tournament

March 17, 2007|By HEATHER A. DINICH

GAME FACTS

What / / NCAA tournament Midwest Regional, second round

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

When / / Today, 3:20 p.m.

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

Line / / Maryland by 5 1/2

The teams

No. 4 seed Maryland / / 25-8; ACC tied for third (10-6); 22nd NCAA tournament appearance.

No. 5 seed Butler/ / 28-6; shared regular-season Horizon League title with Wright State (13-3), seventh NCAA tournament appearance.

The frontcourts

Maryland has a size advantage. The tallest player in Butler's starting lineup is 6-foot-7 forward Brian Ligon, who is averaging 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds. Nobody on the Bulldogs' roster is averaging more than six rebounds per game --guard Mike Green leads at 5.9. The Terps have the best shot-blocking duo in the Atlantic Coast Conference in James Gist and Ekene Ibekwe. If Ibekwe can stay out of foul trouble, it will make life easier for the Terps.

Edge / / Maryland

The backcourts

Butler has two guards -- Green and A.J. Graves -- who control the tempo and lead the team in scoring. The Bulldogs run a motion offense and are a guard-oriented team that handles the ball well. D.J. Strawberry said he plans to use his 4-inch height advantage to help him contain Graves, who leads the team with an average of 17 points and made three of eight three-point shots in the first-round win against Old Dominion.

Edge / / Maryland

The benches

Drew Streicher and Pete Campbell are the only two reserves who played significant minutes for Butler in its Thursday win over Old Dominion; Maryland has relied heavily on its bench this season. Maryland junior forward Bambale Osby bailed the Terps out of foul trouble against Davidson in the first round and came through with timely rebounds and baskets that helped the Terps overcome an eight-point deficit. This is the second mid-major Maryland will face that can't match the Terps' height (7-foot Will Bowers) or physical play of the 6-8, 250-pound Osby. Maryland's sixth man, freshman guard Eric Hayes, has been interchangeable at point guard and is shooting 91.2 percent from the free-throw line.

Edge / / Maryland

the Coaches

Butler's Todd Lickliter has guided the Bulldogs to three of the program's past six NCAA tournament wins, including an appearance in the Sweet 16 in 2003. Lickliter should be a hot commodity this offseason. He has led the program to four 20-win seasons in his six years there, including a school-best 28 wins this season. Still, he's going against Gary Williams, the winningest coach at Maryland whose resume includes an NCAA championship.

Edge / / Maryland

Keys for Maryland

Maryland needs to play defense on every Butler possession, which will likely be the duration of the shot clock. The Terps need to speed up the game and make the Bulldogs play Maryland's up-tempo style. As with first-round opponent Davidson, the Terps again will have to be leery of the three-point shot.

the Bottom line

Here's Maryland's chance at a ticket to St. Louis and the Sweet 16. Maryland is bigger, more athletic and has the defensive edge needed to stop Butler.

Prediction

The Bulldogs aren't likely to hold the Terps under 60 points, so if Maryland plays the defense it's capable of, it should extend its season again.

Maryland 75, Butler 63

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