The key for Maryland in this game will probably be the play of Steve Blake, who had 11 assists in the first round victory over Siena. Blake is usually steady but will be defended by the Wildcats' Cliff Hawkins, one of the country's best on-the-ball defensive players. Maryland will probably have an advantage in depth, but it clearly has the most difficult assignment of any of the top seeds remaining.
Kentucky put its up-and-down regular season behind them after winning a pair of games to open the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats eased by Valparaiso in the first round and needed one of the NCAA's all-time great performances by Prince to hold off Tulsa. Prince scored 41 points on an economical 21 shots and the Wildcats needed just about every one of them in the 87-82 triumph over Tulsa.
Maryland also got past both the Saints of Siena and the Wisconsin Badgers with ease. In their opening round game vs. Siena, Steve Blake had 11 points and 11 assists and Juan Dixon had 29 points as he moved within 7 points of the all-time record for career points at Maryland. Lonny Baxter added 14 points and 9 rebounds, and Drew Nicholas added 9 points from the bench for the Terps.
Trying to avenge a loss last season to Wisconsin, Juan Dixon broke Len Bias' school record for career points and eclipsed Bias' mark for career points in the NCAA Tournament. Dixon has 2,172 points overall and 197 in his four trips to the tourney, leading Maryland past Wisconsin 87-57 for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Juan Dixon lead all scores with 29 points, 10-for-19 from the field, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, and 5-of-6 on free throws. He also had five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Maryland has gone 9-4 vs. ranked teams this season (their only four losses have been against ranked teams, in fact) while Kentucky is 8-6 vs. teams in the Top 25. The Terrapins are looking to make it to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row. The game will tipoff 25 minutes after the Connecticut-Southern Illinois game, at approximately 10:00 pm on CBS.