Maryland Basketball: Story of the Terps and Jackrabbits

Mar 17, 2016; Spokane, WA, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon speaks to media during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men
Mar 17, 2016; Spokane, WA, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon speaks to media during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men /

Maryland basketball square off against a fast-paced South Dakota State team in their first game of the NCAA Tournament.

Many of us remember the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. The hare was fast moving, but did things differently. Meanwhile, the tortoise was old school, but more efficient.

Today’s matchup between the Maryland Terrapins and South Dakota State Jackrabbits is an example of that story, and not just because the names matchup (okay, maybe a little).

You don’t see many college teams that feature a lineup like the Terps anymore. They have NBA length at all five positions and their style of basketball is like that of an old-school NBA team. South Dakota State is a smaller team that shoots the lights out of the ball; similar to what we see from the Golden State Warriors.

The Jackrabbits enter the NCAA Tournament after winning the Summit League regular season and tournament championships. They are looking to get their first win in the NCAA Tournament in program history, and have the weapons to do that against the Terps.

Freshman center Mike Daum averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds during the regular seasons, and added some Summit League hardware to his trophy case. Daum is the first player that Maryland must stop, but the Jackrabbits will attack the Terps. South Dakota State is great at shooting the long-range shot and getting offensive rebounds, two of Maryland’s weakness all season long.

This is not a Cinderella story waiting to happen. The Jackrabbits played in the Big Dance in 2012 and 2013, losing in the first round both times. George Marshall gives them tournament experience as a Wisconsin transfer. Teams with the 12-seed have enjoyed success in the tournament which gives South Dakota State some added confidence.

The Terps were ranked in the Top 10 for much of the season, but have lost five of their last eight games which placed them as the dreaded 5-seed. Maryland basketball had championship aspirations to begin the season, and is not going to let a mid-major stop them early in the tournament.

Maryland is the bigger and stronger team today, and must use that size advantage to pound the Jackrabbits in the post. The Terps made an effort to feed Diamond Stone in their two Big Ten Tournament games. Stone has been unstoppable at times this season and need that kind of effort from their big man throughout the tournament. Getting Stone the ball should be the focus to get him going in the opening game of the tournament. 

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Robert Carter has become a bit of an afterthought offensively as of late, but he gives Maryland a huge weapon against South Dakota State. He can stretch the floor, but more importantly for this game, he can score in the post.

Getting the bigs the ball in the paint opens up the lanes for Melo Trimble, who has played better as of late. It also gives Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon the space to knock down three pointers. Few teams in college basketball have all five starters averaging double figures in scoring.

The key to the game will be who wins the rebounding game. The Terps have struggled with teams that rebound the basketball well. The Jackrabbits are a small team, but are aggressive at the rim. Maryland does have the size advantage, but they have most of the season as well. In order to make a run in this tournament, they must get rebounds.

Next: Terps Face Tough Road to Reach Final Four

The Jackrabbits will not be an easy out so the Terps have their work cut out for them, but remember that the tortoise won the race. Expect the same from Mark Turgeon’s group.