This will arguably be the best game of the week as Kansas takes on Maryland Thursday in Louisville. The Jayhawks are the No. 1 overall seed and have pretty much had no problems with their first two opponents. The Terrapins, meanwhile, picked up a pair of solid wins, but struggled at times with putting their opponents away. Both of these teams expected to be playing in the Sweet 16 as you couldn't have found a publication that didn't have Maryland in its preseason top 10. These two squads feature a ton of NBA Draft prospects and a lot will be on the line.
No. 5 Maryland Terrapins (27-8) vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (32-4)
When: 9:40 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Where: KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, KY)
Line: Kansas -7
Keys for Kansas
Start fast and make Maryland doubt itself. Kansas is the favorite for a reason and these Jayhawks have played like it in the first two rounds. If Melo Trimble gets in foul trouble, then the Terrapins’ offense could likely go into its shell (solid pun, right?). Perry Ellis has to win the battle inside for Kansas because Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. are playing well for Maryland right now. If the Jayhawks keep playing like they have been, it will be hard for anyone to beat them.
Keys for Maryland
As mentioned above, Trimble has to be on the court for things to run smoothly. Jake Layman also has to stay hot, having scored 37 points in two games thus far. He struggled at times down the stretch, but it seems like he is getting his confidence back at the right time. Finally, give the others in the crowd something to root for. Should Miami and Villanova fans stick around, they certainly won't be rooting for Kansas. Play well and make people believe an upset can occur.
I'm a stubborn person when it comes to my beliefs. I took Maryland at 30/1 to win this Tournament before it began because I believe in their talent. If the Terrapins play up to their potential, they can win this one. Both teams are deep, but I think that Maryland gets the victory.
Prediction: Maryland 69, Kansas 65
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)