SPOKANE, Wash. -- Maryland found itself in this situation just one year ago, on the verge of a Sweet 16 with one game to win to make it happen. Last year it was West Virginia. This year it is Hawaii.
Here are 5 things you need to know about Terps-Rainbow Warriors.
1) It starts with defense
Hawaii ranks seventh in the country in defensive efficiency, which is what this team hangs its hat on. Opponents don’t shoot well from three-point range against them, which is really what won Maryland’s first-round game for them.
So where will the weak link be defensively for Hawaii? SDSU had to give up threes to Jake Layman and Jared Nickens because it focused so hard on shuttind down Melo Trimble and the interior duo of Robert Carter and Diamond Stone.
2) Expect a lot of fouls
Aggressive defense is often paired with a lot of fouling. That’s true for Hawaii. They rank 235th in the country in fouls per possession defensively, meaning they send the opponent to the line a lot (22.1 free-throw attempts per game).
They also draw a ton of fouls on the other end of the floor. They are 11th in the country in the number of attempts they themselves take from the line per game. So it’s a balancing act for Maryland.
They got into bad foul trouble against South Dakota State. That can’t happen again. But they can also make a living at the line against this team. That would benefit them greatly.
3) The “big” problem
Stefan Jankovic is a matchup nightmare for almost any team in the country. At 6-11, he is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder while shooting nearly 56 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three on 2.5 attempts per game.
South Dakota State made Maryland really uncomfortable by putting its bigs in ball screen actions and making players like Damonte Dodd and Diamond Stone move their feet and defend out to the perimeter. The Rainbow Warriors can do the same thing on Sunday.
Jankovic is the perfect big to do that.
4) Winning the battle of the guards
As good at Jankovic is, Hawaii actually ripped off a big run in the second half against California to put that game away while he was sitting on the bench with foul trouble. That’s a credit to how well their guards played in that game.
Aaron Valdes is the team’s second-leading scorer. Roderick Bobbitt had 17 points in that first-round win. Quincy Smith more than doubled his average scoring output with 19 points in that game.
For Melo Trimble, he needs a line that looks more like his lines from earlier this season or even last season to put Maryland in the best position. That means a lot of points on a lot of free throws and only a dozen or so shots from the field. If that comes to be, it will mean Maryland was efficient all night.
5) Not overlooking anyone
Maryland players returning from last year’s team will tell you that there was an excitement about having the opportunity to play then-undefeated Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Such an excitement, even, that they forgot about the West Virginia team right in front of them -- one that presented a terrible matchup for them in the first place.
That shouldn’t be an issue on Sunday against Hawaii.