When Vasquez is on his game, the Terrapins are extremely difficult to defeat.
Maryland beat North Carolina 88-85 in overtime back in late February; Vasquez recorded a stat line of 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. When he is off his game, the Terrapins do seem to struggle with their all-around game.
"Well, this is a team game. You have to play team defense. It's going to be -- they're going to play great team defense. We're not going to focus so much on [Vasquez]," Cal guard Jerome Randle said at Wednesday's pre tournament press conference.
"We're going to just play basketball. I mean, he can't win a whole game by himself. He needs the rest of his teammates. He's definitely number one on our list, but we have to just contain him and just be smart out there and just play our game."
While Vasquez is the Terrapins' best player, he has shot just under 40% from the field on the year, and only 32% from 3-point range. Much of the Terrapins success will depend on how efficient Vasquez is with the basketball. When Vasquez is on the floor, he can expect a heavy dose of Patrick Christopher and Jorge Gutierrez covering him.
The other two starting guards in the Terrapins offense – Sean Mosely and Adrian Bowie – average 5.3 points and 8.9 points, respectively. Bowie, in particular, is a streaky shooter who can score 15 points any given night. Expect guard Jerome Randle to man-up against Bowie. On the other hand, Mosely is used more for his rebounding ability and his defense.
At forward, the Terrapins starters Dave Neal and Landon Milbourne are only 6-7. Neal is a rock at 267 lbs, but has a decent stroke from the outside (38.9% from 3-point range). Milbourne is a bit skinnier at 207 lbs, but has great athletic ability enough to average 11.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. Don't be surprised if Cal head coach Mike Montgomery puts Gutierrez on Milbourne and force him to shoot from outside.
"It makes it very difficult to defend because you've got a guy that's a big enough guy to play inside and compete and board and defend your big guys, yet he's a pick-and-pop guy," Montgomery said of Neal at Wednesday's presser.
Off the bench, the Terrapins use three primary players to go 8-deep. Their best bench threat is guard Eric Hayes, who is their primary 3-point shooting threat, and a 91% foul shooter. Hayes consistently scored double figures for the Terps this year. His season high is 21 points in their ACC Tournament victory over NC State.
For the Bears to beat Maryland and advance, three things are going to have to happen.
The Bears must get their consistent shooting from Christopher and Randle, which became a bit inconsistent late in the season. The Bears, considering that they will have to two tallest players on the floor in Jordan Wilkes and Jamal Boykin, must rebound well. And finally, the Bears must force Vasquez to take bad shots and limit how effective he is on the floor.
If the Bears do these three things, they can expect to extend their stay in Kansas City for another two days.
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