After a somewhat bumpy ride through the regular season, the Maryland Terrapins now find themselves in the Sweet 16. Some might say that the first weekend was a bit of a gift - only having to beat a 12 and a 13 seed - but I think if there was one big takeaway from the first two rounds, it's that there's no such thing as an easy tournament win.
If Maryland makes it to the Elite Eight, there will be nothing easy about it. They'll face the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday night in Louisville. The Jayhawks come in as the number one overall seed and the Vegas favorite to win it all. The Terps have the talent to beat anyone, but what exactly will they be up against?
Here's an early look at three of the biggest things to expect from Kansas.
1. The Jayhawks Are One Of The Best Shooting Teams In The Country.
Kansas comes in as the fourth-best team in the country in terms of three-point shooting percentage. They don't shoot them at the rate of a team like Indiana that Terps fans are familiar with. The Jayhawks attempt threes on 33% of their total field goal attempts, compared to Indiana's 40%.
There won't be just one guy to key on, however. Kansas has six players - who regularly attempt three-pointers - that shoot 38% or better from distance. Wayne Selden, Devonte' Graham, and Frank Mason are the biggest threats in the starting lineup. On multiple occasions, Selden and Graham have made five shots from beyond the arc in a game this season.
Luckily for Maryland, three-point defense has been a strength most of the season. Outside of the last few minutes of their matchup with South Dakota State, they were very solid in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
2. They Have NBA Talent Coming Off The Bench.
Maryland's often referred to as one of the most talented teams in the country, and rightfully so. All five of their starters will at least be given the opportunity to make an NBA roster whenever they leave the program. Not only can Kansas match that starter talent, but they've got future pros on their bench, as well.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Cheick Diallo are likely future first rounders and they combined for six total minutes in the team's second round win over Connecticut. Carlton Bragg, Brannen Greene, and Lagerald Vick all have the potential to play at the next level as well. And none of these guys are getting much more than 10 or 11 minutes a game unless it's a blowout or there's major foul trouble.
3. Their Weakness Is Turnovers.
This is the good news for the Terps. Maryland fans don't need anyone to tell that that turnovers have been an issue all season. Fortunately, while Kansas doesn't turn it over at quite the same rate and they do force more than the Terps, it's not by a very wide margin. The Jayhawks are only slightly above average on both ends of the floor. Yes, their biggest weakness is one that they're still better than the majority of the country, but it minimizes a disadvantage that Maryland often has often found itself in this season.