Are you wondering? Let's break it down:
Location: Houston, TX. Duh.
Nickname: Cougars. They refer to themselves as the Coogs.
How They Got In: They were on the far outside of the bubble until winning the C-USA tournament, beating precisely one Top 50 team in the process (UTEP).
Coach: Tom Penders. You may remember him as Texas' former winningest coach, though he was recently passed by Rick Barnes. He resigned after giving a player's report card to the media. He's one of the 25 winningest coaches ever, though he's done that at mostly second-rate programs over 39 years. So he's basically Lenny Wilkens. Oh, and as Houston fans said: "He's not a basketball coach. ... He doesn't teach." It's worth noting that this very well could be his last game as a head coach, as he plans to retire at the end of the year.
Best Player: Aubrey Coleman. The 6-4 senior guard is the nation's leading scorer, averaging 25 points and 7 rebounds a game. He can score at will, and will be a tough matchup for anyone Maryland puts on him.
Best Curbstomper: Aubrey Coleman. He facestomped Chase Budinger for no apparent reason. I mean, I don't like Budinger either, but I'm not exactly about to put my foot in his face. But don't worry - the NCAA wants you to know he's a good guy.
Previously Known By Maryland Fans For: Being Ashton Pankey's runner-up. Suck it, Houston.
What They Do Well: Not turn the ball over, while simultaneously forcing turnovers. They hold on to the ball with outstanding regularity - #1 in the nation in TO % offensively. They also rank #1 in steal %, as well as #3 in steals. They will try to force mistakes, and not give up a lot of their own.
What They Don't Do Well: Rebound and play defense. They are terrible at rebounding - quite literally one of the worst in the nation. You think Maryland can't rebound? Houston's worse. They play very poor halfcourt defense when not forcing a TO - if Maryland can hold onto the ball, they'll force problems. They also don't have much in the way of getting to the foul line and have a rather low eFG%.
In a Nutshell: They play a high tempo, force lots of turnovers, and don't give the ball away too much. The stats would indicate that they struggle when forced to play in the halfcourt, but I haven't done any real research yet, so take it with a grain of salt. They peaked at the right time, but they struggle in the most important part of the game: shooting the ball.
More to come tomorrow.