The Maryland Terrapins are the lone representative of the Big Ten on Thursday's slate of games. With the spotlight solely on Mark Turgeon and the Terps, their game will serve as a solid barometer on where the program currently stands.
Maryland started the season on fire, but fell victim to a rocky end of the regular season which featured losses in five of their last eight games heading into the Big Dance. After getting by South Dakota State and running Hawaii off the court in the second half of their game, the Terrapins are showing signs of their early season successes and could be poised to pull off the upset of the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks.
With March Madness proving that anything can happen in a 40 minute or more span, the Terrapins matchup pretty well for a tilt against the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks.
-(4) Maryland Terrapins vs. (1) Kansas Jayhawks (9:40 p.m. ET/CBS)
The Maryland Terrapins are fresh off a 73-60 victory over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, which featured the Terrapins shooting an outrageously low 1-for-18 from the perimeter. The game was extremely tight throughout the first half as Maryland struggled to find an answer when attempting to slow down Hawaii forward Michael Thomas. Maryland seems to struggle when honing in on key players and allowing other guys not as high on the scouting report to torch them in the scoring column. Thomas currently averages just shy of eight points per game, but managed to pour in 19 against Maryland.
Kansas will undoubtedly be Maryland's toughest opponent this season, as they Jayhawks feature a balanced scoring attack with video game numbers for offensive percentages. As a team, the Jayhawks shoot just shy of 50 percent from the field, 71 percent from the free throw line and 42 percent from distance.
Senior forward Perry Ellis leads the Jayhawks not only with his senior leadership and off the court presence with the younger guys, but on the court as well. Ellis boasts an impressive 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Ellis is one of the few college players who seemingly has been enrolled for double the amount of the allotted time, and has used his collegiate experience to develop his offensive shooting range - Ellis shoots an impressive 53 percent from the field including 44 percent from the three point line.
Terrapin junior Robert Carter Jr. will most likely have the assignment of guarding Ellis throughout the evening, which could be a back and forth adventure as each player could have their troubles guarding the other. Carter also has a propensity of scoring down low and can step out and occasionally knock down the open three pointer.
Maryland will have the individual point guard battle advantage with Melo Trimble, but the Terps will need to figure out how to combat the two-point guard lineup of Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham. The two combine for about 24 points and can be pesky defenders as both average over one steal per game.
The key for Maryland to punch their ticket to the Elite 8 will be to limit turnovers and rebound the basketball. It's obviously easy to say Maryland can't shoot 1-for-18 again from the perimeter, but the key focal points will be to take care of the ball and out rebound the opposition - two areas the Terps have struggled with throughout the season. Getting to the free throw line will be key for Maryland as well. Maryland shot an unbelievable 28-for-31 against Hawaii, and if Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon can attack and get Mason III, Graham and Wayne Selden Jr into foul trouble, don't be surprised if Maryland comes away victorious for a chance to punch their ticket to Houston.