No. 1 Kansas runs away from No. 5 Maryland to reach Elite Eight
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No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 Maryland were deadlocked in the first half on Thursday as each team played like the heavyweights they’re capable of being, but the Jayhawks had the final word in a 79–63 victory to earn their trip to the Elite Eight and 17th straight win. They crashed the boards with authority, to the tune of a 42–26 rebounding advantage, while clamping down defensively and finding their veterans on offense.
Maryland’s backcourt duo of Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon carried the scoring load. The pair accounted for 35 of Maryland’s 63 points, but Maryland was just 5 of 25 from three-point range. The Terrapins also dealt with extensive foul trouble as two starters had four fouls and four players had three.
Why it matters
Kansas nearly met its match in the Sweet 16 against Maryland, which boasts a taller and equally talented starting lineup than the Jayhawks. But Kansas dominated on the boards, rode Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. offensively and got the Terrapins in foul trouble. Maryland’s season ends without ever realizing its full potential. Its starting lineup includes five pro prospects, but three of them are newcomers. While it might make sense on paper to put five physically gifted and individually talented players on the floor together, the talent of the group does not always equal the sum of the parts. There’s a chance the Terrapins will have to replace all five starters next season.
Maryland had an NCAA tournament-best 67% shooting percentage on two-point field goals, but the Terrapins’ struggles from deep came back to bite them. They survived a 1-of-18 showing from three-point range in the second round against Hawaii, but the Terrapins’ 5-of-25 effort cost them against Kansas. The loss also means that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon fell against his alma mater, Kansas, where he played point guard and began his coaching career as an assistant.
No. 2 Villanova awaits Kansas in the regional final after scoring at an incredible clip of 1.58 points per possession in a 92–69 win against No. 3 Miami. The Wildcats are trying to make their first Final Four since 2009, while Kansas is in the midst of its furthest tournament run since losing to Kentucky in the national championship game in 2012. Three teams in the country rank in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency and two of them will play in the South regional final. In a year full of upsets, the region’s top-two seeded teams survived their first three games and will play on Saturday for the chance to advance to the Final Four.