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NCAA Tournament 2016: To beat Kansas, Maryland has to lock down defensively

The Terps will need a strong defensive effort to beat the Jayhawks.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Tournament showed that the Maryland men's basketball team is there on both sides of the basketball court, just not necessarily at the same time.

The Terrapins beat Nebraska solely with stellar offensive play, and nearly pulled out a win over Michigan State doing just the opposite on the defensive end. In an effort to beat Kansas, Maryland will have to do a lot of both, and applying pressure defense might make it all work.

The Terrapins have taken a leap defensively in the past few weeks and if they do beat Kansas Thursday in the Sweet 16, it will probably be from efforts made on that side of the court.

Maryland didn't hang around with the Spartans two weeks ago because it shot 33 percent from the field. That alone should have kept them out of the game, but they held the most efficient offense in the nation, per Ken Pomeroy, to 64 points on 42 percent shooting with 13 turnovers.

Few teams have come away with a win over the Jayhawks (four to be exact) and the West Virginia was one of the teams able put up the defensive effort necessary to stop them -- which is precisely what Maryland will have to do.

Again, the Terps will be outmatched if they attempt to simply outshoot the Jayhawks, who rank No. 8 in the nation in effective field goal percentage and No. 4 in 3-point shooting.

Forcing tough shots and mistakes will be key to a win as shown by the Mountaineers' stellar traps and swarming defense, which won them the first half against Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game despite poor shooting from the field.

Maryland is versatile in who it can use to defend with 6'9 Jake Layman able to guard positions 1-4 and able to use his length to trap the ball, 6'5 Rasheed Sulaimon able to guard nearly the same positions and 6'9 Robert Carter Jr. quick enough to help as well. Melo Trimble and Jaylen Brantley can be used interchangeably to chase off the dribble. Maryland doesn't use a particularly deep bench, but the guys who see time usually contribute.

Maryland may not be great at creating turnovers, but the sheer pressure staying, running and pressing the Jayhawks may spook them enough into sloppy possessions, similar to what West Virginia was able to do.

Kansas is similar to Maryland in that it plays with a slower pace, and getting it out of synch could cause its offense to fold. The Jayhawks are aware as to how to break a press, but even as recently as the Big 12 Championship Game two weeks ago, struggled to gain composure after breaking it.

The Mountaineers got a perfect 7-for-7 shooting half from Devin Williams, but the rest of the team combined to shoot just 7-of-22 -- the pressure they imposed on the defensive end is what won them the half 34-33.

Mark Turgeon will have to let his players loose a bit and possibly put foul trouble in the back of his mind for Maryland to pull of this upset.

Struggles may come again shooting the ball, maybe even as drastic as the 1-for-18 horror show that was Maryland's three-point shooting effort against Hawaii, but stops on the defensive end would give Terrapins some margin for error.