Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.
1. What must Maryland do to have a chance at knocking off overall No. 1 Kansas?
Andy Katz: The Terps need a monster game from Diamond Stone inside. Stone has to be the difference-maker. He has the ability but if he can dominate the post, then Maryland has a chance.
C.L. Brown: Melo Trimble must resemble his old self from 3-point range. He’s made just 2 of his past 17 attempts from behind the arc, including 1-for-10 in the NCAA tournament. Maybe that can also help free up Stone inside, as Andy suggests.
John Gasaway: Take away Bill Self’s security blanket, otherwise known as Perry Ellis. Beat Ellis to the spot, deny him the ball and then once he does have it, get it out of his hands. Don’t be afraid to leave other Jayhawks temporarily open — Ellis has recorded four assists in his last 312 offensive possessions. Those teammates of his are hardly chopped liver, of course, and you still might lose, but at least you’ll have disrupted KU’s routine.
2. Teams have tried to slow Buddy Hield all season. Not much has worked. Got any ideas on what Texas A&M might want to try?
Katz: Don’t let anyone else beat them. Even if Hield goes for 36, he can’t do it alone. They’ve got to take everyone else out and make them beat them.
Brown: The Aggies should take a page out of what the San Antonio Spurs did to Stephen Curry — push Hield off the 3-point line. Make him put the ball on the floor and earn his points inside the arc. If he still has a 30-point game, then step back and applaud that he did it the old-fashioned way.
Gasaway: I think the smart move would be to let Oklahoma lead by 12 points with 34 seconds left in regulation …. What? That’s been done? Oh, well. I suppose the next best thing is to realize that Kansas didn’t slow down Hield in that classic game in Lawrence in January — but the Jayhawks still won. (Barely.) Attack the rim on offense, and, especially, attack the offensive glass. The Sooners have been average at best in both areas over the first two tournament games.
3. Which player will be the deciding factor in Miami-Villanova?
Katz: Davon Reed. If he’s making 3s then he could be the deciding factor for the Canes. He has the ability to be an X factor in a highly competitive game.
Brown: Angel Rodriguez. He’s had more turnovers than assists in three of the Canes’ past five games, including a season-high seven against Wichita State. That can’t happen if the U expects to reach their first Elite Eight in program history.
Gasaway: Daniel Ochefu. The higher his combined number for minutes, offensive rebounds and blocked shots, the better I like Villanova’s chances.