All year long, the story around the country has been how good of a conference the Big 12 is. Teams like Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Iowa State have dominated the national landscape for a majority of the year. For the most part, the Big Ten has been overshadowed by the Big 12.
In this Sweet 16 meeting, however, the Big Ten has a chance to win back of the bragging rights between the two conferences.
The Maryland Terrapins have one of the most talented rosters in the country, and they certainly boast a roster with enough pure talent to beat the number one overall seed Kansas Jayhawks in this game.
Here are a few of the keys to be watching for when the game tips off on Thursday:
Can the talent of the Terrapins carry them over the depth of the Jayhawks?
If you look at the starting lineups and just go down the starters 1-5, the Terrapins most likely have the advantage from a talent point of view. However, one of the bragging points that has Kansas where they are at this point of the year is the idea that they've got two of everything. They might lack the superstar at any position, but they've got two guys at basically each position that is far more than serviceable.
This may be a game where Maryland needs its superstar level player Melo Trimble to step up and play at the level that a lot of people expected him to be playing at from the beginning of the year. In a game of teams that matchup like these two do, the one star could make the difference.
Can Maryland rebound the basketball?
Despite their great size at every position, rebounding the basketball has been an achilles' heel type of issue throughout the season for this team. You know that guys like Perry Ellis, Landon Lucas and Jamari Traylor for Kansas are athletic enough and smart enough to rebound the ball, so whether or not Robert Carter, Jake Layman and Diamond Stone show the same desire will be huge.
Maryland is one of the most stout defensive teams in the entire country under Mark Turgeon, and keeping Kansas to one shot per possession is going to be a huge point of emphasis for the Terrapins to move on.
Is somebody going to step up for Maryland?
The Terrapins are going to need either all five of their starters to step up and play at or very close to their potential to beat the Kansas Jayhawks in this Sweet 16 matchup. This team was picked by many people to be certain contenders for the National Championship at the beginning of the season.
At this time of the year, stars and superstars elevate their own play and their status in the eyes of a lot of people. Can somebody like Melo Trimble, Diamond Stone or Jake Layman be that guy for the Maryland Terrapins? It's certainly looking to be an incredibly intriguing matchup. This is the type of game the NCAA Tournament is all about and it certainly looks to be an enjoyable game.