Terps will have to work hard to avoid an early exit
Maryland may have just won the ACC Championship against archrival and perennial powerhouse Duke, but that won't be their focal point come tomorrow. Rather, the Terps will be focused on the calendar and on the brackets of the NCAA Tournament, where they are a four seed in the Phoenix region. The road to the Final Four is a rough one, but could see Maryland return to its glory days of only two years ago.
Round One: Maryland vs. UTEP
The much improved UTEP, while not a gimme match-up, should be no problem for the cruising Terps. Maryland's front court of of Jamar Smith, Nik Caner-Medley, and Travis Garrison matches up very well against UTEP's John Tofi and Roy Smallwood, and should be able to muscle its way to points in the paint and important offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Maryland's John Gilchrist has been among the best players in college basketball this past week. Look for him to fan the flames and for the post-ACC adrenaline rush to continue.
Round Two: Maryland vs. Syracuse
Maryland facing Syracuse is the more likely of the possible second-round match-ups, and probably one of the tougher teams Maryland could face. Syracuse's backcourt drained a league-record number of three-pointers during the regular season, with guard Gerry McNamara setting another league record for most by one player. Additionally, Syracuse's front court of Craig Forth and especially Hakim Warrick match up well against Maryland's own front court. Maryland's troubles are further heightened by their ineptitude at the foul line this season. Hope this one doesn't come down to the wire, because if it does, Syracuse's superior clutch three-point shooting and free-throw ability should take the day.
Round Three: Maryland vs. Stanford
Stanford has been one tough cookie to crack this season, losing only one fluke game to Washington in the last game before the Pac-10 tournament. Maryland stands a chance, but not a very good one. Stanford's front court is bigger, stronger, and shoots better from the field and from the line. Maryland's guards match up slightly better against Matt Lottich and Josh Childress, but will still need help from their front men to pull out this tough game. Unless Stanford is exhausted from a nail-biter with Alabama (read: not likely) or falls into a funk, look for the buck to stop here for the Terps.
Possible Elite 8 Match-Ups: Maryland vs. U-Conn, Maryland vs. NC State
For those of you who dare to dream, if Maryland somehow finds a way to beat Stanford they would most likely face either U-Conn or NC State. Obviously, the Terps would prefer the Wolfpack, since they just beat them in the ACC semifinals in a stunning come-from-behind victory on the road. However, U-Conn is not unstoppable either, especially if Okafor is still hurting (a real possibility after three draining tourney games). Sure, Ben Gordon is among the best guards in the league, but Gilchrist at his hottest may be nearly as good. Gilchrist will have to play his heart out, and the Maryland front court would need to come up big from the charity stripe, but it's doable (then again, what isn't in college basketball?)
Prediction: Maryland loses a close one to Syracuse in the second round, 74-71. Gilchrist drops about 25 points, but it isn't enough as Maryland forwards miss key free-throws late in the game and Syracuse buries a three-pointer or two to seal the game.
Nick Falgout. Nick Falgout was bored one day and decided to change his Chips staff information. And now, for a touching song lyric: "I'm a reasonable man, get off my case Get off my case, get off my case." ~ Radiohead, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd … More »