Maryland boasts NBA-caliber size on its front line and an NBA-lite starting five in terms of physicality, but none of it mattered against the Jayhawks.
Kansas out-rebounded Maryland 43-28 in Thursday’s 79-63 win and got strong contributions from several different players.
Landen Lucas — the unsung presence in the Jayhawks’ season — had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while freshman big man Carlton Bragg added eight rebounds off the bench.
This team is much more than Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden, who combined for 46 points and 12 rebounds against the Terps.
Former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp once said “win the boards and win the game.”
Kansas did just that on Thursday night in Louisville.
Villanova’s sense of belief is off the charts
This group of Wildcats had not advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament until this year, but they’re certainly not playing like it.
Villanova expects to win, believes it’s better than its opponents, and is exuding all of these attributes each and every time it takes the floor.
Jay Wright’s squad shot 62.7 percent from the field, 66.7 percent from the 3-point line, and 94.7 percent from free-throw line in Thursday night’s 92-69 win over Miami to advance to the Elite Eight.
The Wildcats have 61 assists on 95 made field goals in three NCAA Tournament games and their average margin of victory during that span is 24.0 points.
This is the best Villanova has played all season and it may not be close.
Virginia has to find a way to contain Georges Niang
ACC assistant coaches have said all season long that the best way to open up the Cavaliers’ defense is to have a stretch power forward who can extend the floor on offense and that’s Niang in a nutshell.
The 6-foot-7 senior is playing like somebody who understands that his college basketball career is coming to an end and has been on an absolute tear to start the NCAA Tournament.
Niang is averaging 28.0 points in his first two games in the field of 68 and presents a major match up problem for Virginia.
It will be interesting to see how Tony Bennett opts to neutralize arguably the most versatile player remaining in the bracket.
Casey Benson’s offense finally caught up with his ball security
Anyone that’s followed Oregon this year knows that Benson has done yeoman’s work at point guard following Dylan Ennis’ season-ending foot injury, but on Thursday night against Duke Benson’s offense also joined the party.
The 6-3 sophomore hit two key 3-point shots to begin the second half and finished with 11 points, eight assists and just one turnover in in the 14-point win.
Dana Altman’s team is one win away from the Final Four and there’s absolutely no way it would be in this position without Benson, a pass-first floor general who’s only committed a total of 24 turnovers this season in 1,063 minutes played.
Maryland could lose all five of its starters
Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman have both exhausted all of their eligibility while Melo Trimble, Robert Carter, and Diamond Stone are likely to at least explore the NBA Draft process.
The Terps won 27 games this season before losing to Kansas on Thursday night in the Sweet 16 and there’s a good chance that this program will have an entirely different look next fall.
Trimble, Carter, and Stone could conceivably return to College Park if they don’t like their projected draft status, but there’s also a legitimate possibility that Mark Turgeon won’t return a single starter when practice begins next October.
It will truly be a new era for Maryland basketball during the 16-17 season.