SPOKANE, Wash. -- South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy was about as blunt as he possibly could have been about his team as it enters Friday’s first-round game against Maryland.
“Physically, we don’t match up to them,” he said. “They’re much bigger than us really at every position.”
And he’s not wrong. South Dakota State typically runs a four-guard lineup to start with redshirt freshman standout Mike Daum coming off the bench.
Compare that to Maryland, which has 6-8 Jake Layman at small forward, 6-9 Robert Carter, Jr. at power forward, and 6-10 Diamond Stone at center.
So that changes the approach for the Jackrabbits to a more collective mentality. Straight up, they will have difficulty defensively and on the glass. All together, that gives them the best chance at an upset. It extends to the backcourt, too.
“We can’t guard Melo Trimble one-on-one, particularly in all the ball-screen stuff that they do,” Nagy said. “The whole team has to get involved with it. It’s just going to have to be a gang mentality for us.”
That should feel like what gave Maryland issues against smaller, less-talented teams in the early part of the season. It even stretched into Big Ten play, where a team like Purdue beat the Terrapins not by dominating the Maryland bigs but by getting rebounding contributions from the wing and guard positions.
The difference is, the Terrapins have been limited in terms of their ability to use small-ball lineups because of a preseason injury to guard Dion Wiley.
Now in the NCAA tournament, all the chips are in the middle of the table. That opens the door for Layman at the power forward spot to counter what South Dakota State throws at them.
“They do create some tough matchups for us like we do for them at the other end,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s March. We’ve seen it all.”