Center: Lonny Baxter vs. Jarrad Odle
Lonny Baxter, Maryland: Baxter is the reigning East Regional Most Valuable Player, and he has some atoning to do after watching most of Saturday night's victory over Kansas from the bench in foul trouble and scoring a season-low four points. He still managed to grab seven rebounds in only 14 minutes. The bet here is that the senior from Silver Spring will bounce back with a vintage effort.
Jarrad Odle, Indiana: Like Baxter, Odle is 6 feet 8, but the senior also gives up nearly 40 pounds to Baxter. Odle is not the classic pivot man, does not rebound with Baxter's consistency and lacks Baxter's quick feet in the post. Odle, averaging 8.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in the tournament, shares his position with backup Jeff Newton, who is the more agile and dangerous of the two.
Power forward: Chris Wilcox vs. Jared Jeffries
Chris Wilcox, Maryland: He did it again. In a huge game against Kansas with the season on the line, while facing All-American Drew Gooden no less, Wilcox put some recent inconsistent performances behind him with his best performance of the tournament. Wilcox's pure athleticism as a finisher, rebounder and shot-blocker are a headache against most teams, and the Hoosiers are no different.
Jared Jeffries, Indiana: The heart and soul of the Hoosiers was the Big Ten Conference's Player of the Year. Jeffries has scored in double figures 30 times and has led the team in scoring and rebounding all season. He is equally comfortable taking the ball to the basket and shooting from medium range. Look for the Terps to go right at him and try to send him to the bench with foul trouble.
Small forward: Byron Mouton vs. Kyle Hornsby
Byron Mouton, Maryland: The senior from Rayne, La., has not been scoring with the consistency he showed during the regular season, but he has helped Maryland in other ways during the tournament. Through five NCAA games, he is tied for second on the team with 5.2 rebounds a game and leads the Terps with 13 offensive rebounds. He also has scored in double figures in two of the past three games.
Kyle Hornsby, Indiana: Mouton needs to bring good defense to the floor tonight, especially on the wing, where Hornsby is a dangerous three-point shooter. He leads the Hoosiers with nine three-pointers in the tournament and is shooting 47.4 percent from beyond the arc. He also has a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the NCAAs, and can put the ball on the floor and penetrate.
Shooting guard: Juan Dixon vs. Dane Fife
Juan Dixon, Maryland: Dixon appears ready to sink his teeth into a Final Four MVP award, and one more night at his current pace most likely will seal that award as well as a national title. Dixon is averaging 27.4 points in the NCAAs on 53 percent shooting, including a blistering 51.3 percent from three-point range. He is shooting 86.2 percent at the free-throw line, is playing his usual great defense and is averaging 36.2 minutes in the postseason.
Dane Fife, Indiana: His main asset is his versatility. The Hoosiers are comfortable going to him at the point guard, and if Tom Coverdale's ankle injury begins to bother him, Indiana will give Fife the ball. On the season, he has shot 46.1 percent overall and 47.7 percent from three-point range, but has only taken enough shots to average 8.6 points. He probably has never faced an opponent as hot as Dixon.
Point guard: Steve Blake vs. Tom Coverdale
Steve Blake, Maryland: What has gotten into the junior who played so well in the regular season and Atlantic Coast Conference tournament? Blake is shooting poorly, and his sinking confidence was evident when he missed four second-half free throws against Kansas. To his credit, he has remained steady for the most part while running the Maryland offense. He had nine assists in the second half Saturday night.
Tom Coverdale, Indiana: Coverdale is not as steady with the ball as Blake, but he looks to score more in the Hoosiers' offense and is not shy about taking shots. He leads the team with 182 three-point attempts and is shooting 47.1 percent from beyond the arc in the NCAAs. His sprained ankle is still a concern.
Maryland: All season, the trio of guard Drew Nicholas, forward Tahj Holden and center Ryan Randle has taken turns providing sparks, and Saturday night was no exception, as they combined for 22 points and nine rebounds against Kansas. Holden came up especially big in the absence of Baxter, and Nicholas played valuable minutes in place of the struggling Blake.
Indiana: Where would the Hoosiers be without their backups, who scored 41 points in the victory over Oklahoma and are averaging 25 points a game in the tournament? Sophomore 6-9 forward Jeff Newton was the man of the hour with 19 points and six rebounds on Saturday, and he is shooting an astounding 79.3 percent in the NCAAs.
Gary Williams, Maryland: One might say Williams has paid his dues to get to this point. He has coached for 24 years at four different schools, including the past 13 at Maryland. He has 480 victories and finally bagged an ACC title this season. He has won 22 NCAA tournament games and has guided the Terps deftly on a dangerous road to get here. He should be cutting down the nets with his first national crown tonight.
Mike Davis, Indiana: In his second season as a head coach, Davis has taken the Hoosiers to the NCAA title game and has Indiana in position to win its sixth national championship. Davis deserves credit for getting the Hoosiers to regroup after they had won just six of 11 games entering the NCAAs. But Davis doesn't have enough talent to get by tonight, and the more experienced Williams is in groove.
When your best ballhandler fails to bring his best stuff for three consecutive games and you keep winning, it's your year. When your best post player barely performs because of foul trouble and you still beat a great Kansas team by scoring 97 points, it's your year. When your best player elevates his game the way Juan Dixon has for the past three weeks, it's your year. With sheer will and a talent advantage, the Terps will roll in the second half and cut down the nets after winning, 86-72.
5 things to watch
Dixon's scoring spree
Maryland guard Juan Dixon matched his career high with 33 points against Kansas and has scored 137 through five games. He probably won't reach the NCAA tournament scoring record held by Michigan's Glen Rice (184 points in 1989), but another big game could move him into the top five.
Maryland's Chris Wilcox showed the basketball world his NBA potential by dominating All-American Drew Gooden on Saturday night. Indiana's Jared Jeffries will not make the mistake of talking down to Wilcox in any pre-game interviews. This could be the best one-on-one battle to watch. Both are 6-foot-10 sophomores with unlimited potential.
Maryland has shown a willingness and determination to defend against the three-point shot at times this season, and the Terps need to patrol the wings alertly tonight. Indiana is shooting a sizzling 52.9 percent from three-point range in the NCAAs. Maryland probably needs to limit the Hoosiers to under 40 percent, or at least limit their long-range looks.
Can Baxter rebound?
Terps center Lonny Baxter rarely has been as ineffective this season as he was against Kansas, when he took himself out of the action with foul trouble, played a season-low 14 minutes and scored a season-low four points. The senior is a good bet to erase that with a strong showing in his final collegiate game.
The Terps are in position to set the all-time record for free-throw shooting percentage in NCAA tournament history. Although Maryland stumbled at the line in the second half of the Kansas victory, the Terps still have made 82.5 percent of their free throws in the tournament. No Final Four team has ever finished the tournament with a free-throw percentage above 84.4 percent. Gary Lambrecht