Top-seeded Kansas expects battle from No. 5 Maryland
LOUISVILLE, KY. >> Kansas played like the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with two decisive wins to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in three years.
The Jayhawks extended their winning streak to 16 games, and look to continue that momentum as the competition is expected to get much tougher. Next up is No. 5 seed Maryland in Thursday night's South Region semifinal, and don't expect the Terps to throw anything at them they haven't seen.
"I'm not too worried about that situation because we're pretty battle-tested and have been through a lot," junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. said Wednesday. "We've been in just about every position we could be in and been in tough positions where we've dug ourselves out of it. That's been our mode lately."
Maryland often has played up — and on occasion — down to the level of its opponent, a pattern that suggests they'll be at their best against Kansas (32-4). The Terrapins (27-8) fought through a tough opening weekend, outlasting South Dakota State before rallying past Hawaii in the second round to reach their first Sweet 16 since 2003.
"I expect Kansas to play well and expect us to play well," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "Our guys will be fired up because they have a lot of respect for Kansas, and they're the best team in the tournament. That gets our attention."
Both teams see similarities in each other.
Kansas features a strong backcourt in Selden (13.6 points per game), junior Frank Mason III (12.8) and sophomore Devonte' Graham (11.4). Maryland counters with sophomore Melo Trimble (14.8) and senior Rasheed Sulaimon (11.1).
The schools also feature impressive frontcourts with 6-foot-11 freshman Diamond Stone leading Maryland while senior Perry Ellis (16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds) anchoring things for Kansas.
The Jayhawks were impressive in their victories over Austin Peay and Connecticut, but Kansas coach Bill Self knows this will be a different challenge.
"We're catching a team that even though they're seeded fifth, our guys understand they can play to a (No.) 1 seed," he said. "This is a really hard matchup because we really think a lot of their team."
Some other things to watch in Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup:
PERIMETER SHOOTING: Maryland has shot fairly well through two games (48.3 percent) but is just 10 of 41 from 3-point range. The Terps were just 1 of 18 from long range against Hawaii and know that can't happen against the Jayhawks. Trimble isn't concerned. "I just keep shooting them," said the guard, who had Maryland's lone 3 against Hawaii. "When you're having fun, you don't worry about the misses."
FAVORABLE IMPRESSION: Turgeon has answered a lot of questions this week about facing his alma mater, where he played four years and was a Kansas assistant under Larry Brown and Roy Williams. When he played, Self was a Jayhawks graduate assistant. He said Turgeon gave the game his all as a player. "He wasn't very big," Self said, "but he got all the talent he had out of that 5-10, 160-pound frame he possibly could."
CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS: Kansas' victory over UConn included a 44-24 domination of the boards that they're eager to follow up against Maryland. "We've just got to play physical," forward Jamari Traylor said. "That's what got us here, and we've got to continue to do that."
LONG TIME, NO SEE: The schools are meeting for the first time since the 2002 Final Four, when Maryland beat Kansas in the semifinal en route to the national title. Kansas leads the series 3-2 but Maryland has won the past two meetings.
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