The last, and only, time Kansas and Maryland met in the NCAA Tournament was 2002. That was in the Final Four, and a 97-88 win by the Terrapins propelled them to their only National Championship. Mark Turgeon will be looking for a similar result in his 5th season as Maryland head coach.
Previewing the match-ups in this game is intriguing as both teams relied heavily on their starters in their round of 32 game. The only starter to not play 30+ minutes in the teams previous game was Maryland center Diamond Stone, and that was mostly due to foul trouble.
Thursday night will showcase many big time matchups including Frank Mason vs. Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone vs. Perry Ellis/Landen Lucas. Today, however, we take a look at the mismatch that Jake Layman will have at small forward.
Since Maryland plays one of the biggest lineups in college basketball, Turgeon has been forced to move 6'9'' Layman to the small forward position. There aren't many teams whose starting lineup can match up with a 6'9'' small forward, and Kansas is no exception. In their meeting with UConn, Bill Self played every starter 34 minutes or more. This included three guards, the biggest being Wayne Selden Jr. at 6'5''.
With Devonte' Graham and Mason far too small to match up with Layman, Selden is likely to get the assignment. With a 4 inch height advantage, this is still a match-up that the senior can exploit. Layman has been on fire in the first two games of the tournament, shooting 11-19 for 37 points including 10-10 from the free throw line.
With the clear height advantage, look for Layman to continue to get what he wants offensively. While Selden is a good defender, and very active, Layman can still force Kansas to have to double him down low if he scores early. This could be especially big for Maryland because they will not have their normal mismatch with Diamond Stone in the post as the bigs on Kansas may be the best Maryland has faced all year besides Purdue.
While Mark Turgeon will love the advantage Layman will have on offense, he will have to be creative on defense if he wants to keep Carter, Stone, and Layman on the floor. While Sulaimon will probably draw the matchup with Kansas' best offensive guard in Selden, Layman may be stuck on Graham who is less of a threat, but will have a major quickness advantage.
Maryland will almost definitely have to go zone for part of the game if they are going to play their starters the amount of minutes they have been throughout the season. It may be a game of who blinks first between Turgeon and Self. Both coaches will be faced with challenges defensively to match up with the opponent. While Self will be tempted to go bigger and away from the 3 guards to better match up with Layman, Turgeon will be tempted to go small and put Layman at the power forward position and use Jared Nickens in a big role off the bench.
With such a short bench, Turgeon may be forced to stick to his guns and go with a big lineup, finding creative ways defensively to match up with Kansas. Look for Layman to play a big part offensively if Maryland wants to pull the upset. Maryland will need to use every advantage they have to shock the top seeded Jayhawks Thusday.