USA TODAY Sports
Top-seeded Kansas roared through the opening week of the NCAA Tournament and attempts to post its 17th consecutive victory on Thursday when it faces fifth-seeded Maryland in the Sweet 16 at Louisville, Ky. The Jayhawks are looking to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2012, while the Terrapins are part of the Sweet 16 for the initial time since 2003.
The Jayhawks lost their second game in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments and this year’s squad has had the Final Four as a goal since the start of the campaign. “These last couple years we’ve been bounced a little bit early, and it’s definitely left a bad taste in our mouth as a team,” senior forward Jamari Traylor said at Wednesday’s press conference. “We’re just more focused. Every possession matters. We’re just more in tune, more of a tight-knit group.” Maryland is thriving under coach Mark Turgeon – a former Kansas player and assistant coach – and senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon feels his team is primed to knock off the Jayhawks. “I think it’s just going to come down to how each team executes their game plan,” Sulaimon said at Wednesday’s press conference. “It’s going to be a heavyweight battle between two great teams, between two great coaches. I’m sure they have a great game plan for us and we have a great game plan for them.”
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: The no. 1 seeded Jayhawks opened as seven-point favorites and the spread has dropped slightly down to -6.5. The total opened at 146 and has been bet down to 143.5. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened Kansas as a -7 point favorite and took over 85 percent of the early action on the Jayhawks to cover the -7 points. With the action starting to come in on Maryland we have moved to Kansas -6.5 with just over 60 percent of the action to cover the spread. Our 144 point total is getting dead even action with 50 percent on the over/under.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.
ABOUT MARYLAND (27-8, 16-17-1 ATS, 13-20-1 O/U): Guard Melo Trimble is averaging 21.5 points in NCAA tourney wins over South Dakota State and Hawaii but the sophomore who leads the squad in scoring (14.8) and assists (five per game) is a streaky outside shooter despite sharing the team lead of 57 3-pointers with senior forward Jake Layman (11.7). “I’m a confident player,” Trimble said at the Maryland press conference. “If I miss one, I’ll shoot the next one. It’s supposed to be a short memory. When you’re having fun, you don’t worry about the misses. You keep shooting and do whatever it takes to help your team win.” Joining Trimble and Layman as double-digit scorers are freshman center Diamond Stone (12.7), junior forward Robert Carter (12.4 points, team-best seven rebounds per game) and Suliamon (11.1).
ABOUT KANSAS (32-4, 23-11 ATS, 13-20-1 O/U): Junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. is putting the ugly performances of the past two NCAA tourneys behind him – he averaged 2.5 points on 4-of-21 shooting in four games – to average 18 points on 13-of-25 shooting in victories over Austin Peay and Connecticut. “Everybody’s going to go through times where everything’s not going well,” Selden said at the Kansas press conference. “Nobody’s perfect, but it’s all about just getting through it. If you’re winning at that time, it doesn’t matter.” Senior forward Perry Ellis leads the Jayhawks in scoring (16.9) and is followed by Selden (13.6), junior guard Frank Mason III (12.8 points, team-best 4.6 assists) and sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham (11.4).
* Maryland is 1-4 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Kansas is 8-1 ATS in their last nine neutral site games.
* Under is 7-1 in Maryland’s last eight games following an ATS win.
* Under is 25-7 in Jayhawk’s last 32 NCAA Tournament games.
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