The door of opportunity has been opened up wide for the Maryland Terrapins, but will they take advantage and choose to walk through?
The Kansas Jayhawks, widely regarded as a large roadblock if the Terps managed to reach the Sweet 16 (and I was even higher on them than most), were stunned by Northern Iowa and have been eliminated before the end of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
The loss goes down as one of the biggest second round upsets of a No. 1 seed in recent memory. I know many mention the Kentucky loss to Alabama-Birmingham in 2004 as the biggest ever, but I would give the edge to the Kansas loss. I’m still absolutely stunned by the final result.
All of that means that Maryland, should it beat Michigan State, would take on Northern Iowa instead of the Kansas in the Sweet 16. While Northern Iowa is a good asketball and will certainly present a formidable challenge, they are no Kansas.
First, the Terps need to make sure they have a chance to take advantage of this great opportunity by taking care of business against a tough Michigan State team.
The Spartans were highly ranked coming into the season but have been a pretty big disappointment. They come into the tournament looking to exceed downgraded expectations, and they have the players to get it done.
Michigan State is still a good defensive team and rebounds very well, but not to the same extent of past versions of the squad. Maryland doesn’t exactly fare well against teams like Michigan State, but it does help that they lack some of the height and physicality of last year’s team.
Jordan Williams against Raymar Morgan could be the key matchup. Morgan’s versatility could allow him to guard anyone from Greivis Vasquez to Williams. Williams dominated against Houston but will face much stiffer competition in the paint against Michigan State.
It was so disappointing to see the Terps draw Kansas in their side of the bracket on Selection Sunday, as it seemed like it limited the Terps to a spot in the Sweet 16 at best. Now the Terps and their fans have home and are excited at the prospect of taking advantage of the Kansas loss to make a run to the Elite Eight, or dare I say the Final Four.