How Far Can the Maryland Terrapins Go?

Jeff WolfsonContributor IMarch 17, 2009

The Maryland Terrapins were a bubble team almost the entire months of February and March. All season long the Terps have not had a strong front court and have struggled rebounding. Their first round opponent, the California Golden Bears, has had the same problem all season long. The key matchups will come at the guard position.

One key matchup in the West Region’s No. 7 vs. No. 10 game is 6’6” guard Greivis Vasquez against 5’10” Jerome Randle. Maryland could easily dominate this matchup by posting up the much bigger Vasquez on Randle. If Maryland follows through, that would be one way to beat Cal.

A second matchup will be the Bears inside tandem of Omondi Amoke and Jamal Boykin against the smallish inside of Maryland’s Landon Milbourne and Dave Neal. The Terps have gotten by most of the year with hustle and heart. To win this battle it will be no different.

The bench will be the last key. Eric Hayes and Cliff Tucker came on later in the year, along with Dino Gregory, to give Maryland a formidable eight man rotation. California goes with a rotation anywhere between eight and 10 men, some of those players are a lot bigger than Maryland. If Maryland and Cal are even, it will be a win for Maryland.

Where California should succeed against the Terps is beyond the three point line. Maryland had a tough time preventing teams from making three pointers during the ACC season, winding up at 10th in the ACC. On the other hand, Maryland should succeed in pressuring the ball and getting fast break points.

If the Terrapins get by the Bears, which is a tall task, they will, in all likelihood, face the 31-3 and No. 2 seed Memphis Tigers.

Memphis finished their season as Conference USA regular season and tournament champions. The Tigers—who were the national runner-up last season—are lead by freshman point guard Tyreke Evans this year.

Maryland will struggle against Memphis. The Tigers are bigger, more talented, and play better defense. The size of the Tigers will bother Maryland, much like their first meeting with Wake Forest and their early season matchup with Gonzaga. In addition to all of their talent, the Memphis senior class has more wins than any class in history.

The only way Maryland can pull off an upset and advance to the Sweet 16 is if Vasquez has an outstanding game, similar to his triple-double performance against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Hayes also needs to continue his hot play for the Terps to win against the Tigers.

Overall, it has been an excellent season for Maryland, but they probably won’t make it past the first weekend of the tournament.