Maryland faces Kansas on Thursday night in a South Regional semifinal, as the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 rolls on in Louisville. The Jayhawks, the top overall seed and arguably the best team left in the tournament, will try to avoid an upset against a massively talented Maryland squad that has often underachieved this year.
There's a rich narrative behind this game. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon played for Kansas in the 1980s, then became an assistant there under legendary coaches Larry Brown and Roy Williams. He'll have to put aside past allegiances for the night, and the Terps will need all hands on deck to have a chance against Turgeon's alma mater.
That's because Kansas is dominant. Bill Self's team has won 16 games in a row behind a balanced offensive and defensive attack and wasn't deeply threatened in either of its first two tournament games, against No. 16 Austin Peay and No. 9 Connecticut. The Jayhawks are elite on offense, and they are elite on defense. Senior forward Perry Ellis is one of the country's scariest inside-out threats, Landen Lucas is a formidable post defender and guards Frank Mason III, Wayne Selden Jr. and Devonte' Graham put Kansas over the top athletically.
Maryland's results haven't been nearly as good as the Jayhawks', but the Terps are similarly talented. Melo Trimble is one of the best point guards in the country, and he has recovered a bit lately after a weeks-long shooting drought. Five-star freshman center Diamond Stone and veteran forward Robert Carter Jr. give the Terps two talented post presences, and seniors Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon provide wing defense, athleticism and shooting ability across multiple positions. The Terps didn't win pretty in their first- and second-round games, but they made enough plays to beat both No. 12 South Dakota State and No. 13 Hawaii. Neither is quite as good as Kansas.
The winner of the Maryland-Kansas game plays the winner of Thursday's Miami-Villanova game in the Elite Eight, with the South Region's eventual champion heading to Houston the next weekend for the Final Four.
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.
When: 9:40 p.m. ET
TV information: CBS
Online: NCAA March Madness Live
Radio: Westwood One