Maryland beat a pesky and upset-minded Hawaii team on Sunday night in Spokane to advance to the Sweet 16. Who awaits them? The tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, the Kansas Jayhawks.
Here are three quick things you need to know about Maryland’s next opponent.
1) Mark Turgeon’s alma mater
It’s the unavoidable storyline that will be talked about in advance of this game. Turgeon played four years at Kansas in the 1980s and was a graduate assistant on the team that won a national championship in 1988.
His connection to the university and his home state of Kansas remains strong. Earlier this season after Kansas beat Oklahoma, Turgeon referred to the Jayhawks and his alma mater in the first-person when talking about the game.
It’s not his first go-around against Kansas, though. Far from it. He coached Texas A&M in the Big 12 from 2007-11.
2) A lot of quality college basketball players
There is not a projected first-round pick in Kansas’ starting lineup. The Jayhawks are simply a collection of terrific college basketball players. Frank Mason was a Towson commit before flipping to Kansas. Devonte’ Graham looked headed to Appalachian State before becoming a Jayhawk. Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden have been around and you tend to trust seniors in March.
They are multi-talented and can beat you in a number of ways offensively, then lock down defensively with their Top 30 squad on that end.
3) Incredible balance
Kansas is one of only two teams in the country that entered the NCAA tournament ranking in the Top 10 in the country in both offensive and defensive efficiency. That makes it incredibly difficult to find a weakness. If their shot is off, they can lock down on defense. If the opposition finds a groove, it can win a shootout.
They can beat you inside or outside. They can defend you inside or outside. The good news? Maryland has showed up all season for games against the toughest opponents.