NCAA Basketball Betting:  Maryland vs. Kansas&h=253&w=372&zc=1

The NCAA ‘Sweet Sixteen’ begins on Thursday night and right at the top of the betting board (though starting later than the second game on the board) we’ve got Maryland against #1 seeded Kansas. Kansas obliterated Austin Peay and Connecticut in the first two rounds while Maryland struggled with South Dakota State in the first round before beating Hawaii by 13. The Terps led by one at halftime and managed to cover despite themselves–they didn’t play particularly well in either game.

And that’s a *huge* concern in this matchup. The winner of this game will face the winner of Miami/Villanova in the ‘Elite Eight’ and we have no reason to think it won’t be Kansas. Maryland doesn’t have their depth and has a tendency to go cold from long range. They were 1 for 18 from three point range in the win over Hawaii. The Hawaii game is why you can’t just handicap based on final scores–you have to look deeper. At first glance, it looks like Maryland struggled in the first round and got things straightened out in the second. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and despite their second round cover they showed plenty of liabilities that Kansas will be able to exploit.

The last thing you want to do with a team like Kansas is make them mad. The best strategy is to *hope* they’re looking past you and then go out and execute. Maryland didn’t do that–instead point guard Melo Trimble figured it was a good idea to incite the Jayhawks. Trimble: “I think I’m the best point guard and I just have to go out there and prove it.” Trimble is an excellent guard and along with Rasheed Sulaimon makes up one of the nastier backcourts in college hoops. But throwing down this kind of gauntlet against a team like Kansas doesn’t have an upside.

Kansas is too deep and too good and executing too well at the moment to go against. I wasn’t sold on the Jayhawks heading into the tournament but they’ve been focused and intense in the first two rounds. I don’t expect that to change heading into the money rounds of the tournament.