No. 7 Maryland (17-12) vs. No. 10 Santa Clara (19-8)


What: First round, NCAA West Regional

Where: Arizona State University Activity Center, Tempe, Ariz.

When: Today, 2: 38 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)

How they got here: Maryland got an at-large bid with an RPI power rating of 30. The Terps are coming off a semifinal loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament. Santa Clara got an at-large bid with an RPI rating of 31, despite getting upset at home in the West Coast Conference tourney opener by Pepperdine.

Conference record: Maryland went 8-8 in the ACC to tie Duke for fourth place. Santa Clara went 10-4 in the WCC, tying Gonzaga for first.

Ranking: Neither team is ranked.

NCAA tournament record: Maryland is 17-12 with 12 straight first-round wins. Santa Clara is 10-12, including a 64-61 upset of Arizona in 1993.

Coaches: Gary Williams is 122-89 in his seventh year at Maryland, 329-217 overall. Dick Davey is 72-41 at Santa Clara.

Key matchups: Maryland likely will use Exree Hipp and Laron Profit against Santa Clara's highly regarded point guard Steve Nash (16.9 ppg, 5.8 apg). The other big matchup pits Maryland's 6-6 Keith Booth (15.6 ppg, 7-9 rpg) against either 6-7 power forward Jason Sedlock or 6-10 center Brendan Graves. Booth figures to win either matchup.

Good wins, bad losses: Maryland's big wins came back to back in early February when the Terps beat Georgia Tech at home, 88-74, and North Carolina on the road, 84-78. Bad losses followed against Florida State, Clemson and Duke (in College Park). Santa Clara has beaten UCLA and Georgia Tech, but suffered bad losses to Marquette (78-49), Penn State (70-49) and Pepperdine (63-60) in the WCC tournament.

What Maryland has to do to win: Play an up-tempo game, forcing the action with its trapping defense, and pound away inside with Booth.

What Santa Clara has to do to win: Must get help for Nash outside. That means Marlon Garnett, who should get kick-out passes from Nash. The Broncos also must play better post defense, especially against Booth.

Bottom line: Unless Maryland has a poor shooting day or is lulled into Santa Clara's pace of game, the Terps should win in the first round for the third straight year. It's an early game, though, and history suggests that is not to Maryland's advantage.

Pub Date: 3/15/96

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