- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

[7] CALIFORNIA (22-10) vs. [10] MARYLAND (20-13)

West Region first round

Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo., 2:55 p.m. | TV: Chs. 9, 13 | Radio: FM-106.7

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MATCHUP TO WATCH

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Maryland guards Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley vs. Cal guard Jerome Randle: The California offense flows through Randle, who leads the Golden Bears in scoring and assists and shoots 46.8 percent from 3-point range. Containing Randle is pretty much the ticket to containing California, which like Maryland is impressive on the perimeter but not nearly as strong in the low post.

Bowie seems like a good choice to begin the game on Randle, given both his size and the lankiness of California’s wing players. But the pesky Mosley plays as much as he does because of both his rebounding and defense, and it would come as no shock if the bulky freshman receives an opportunity to try to lock down Randle on the perimeter.

X-FACTOR

Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez:The junior guard produced the Terrapins‘ first triple-double in 22 years when he torpedoed North Carolina on Feb. 21, and since that game he has vacillated between good and great. Given more ballhandling responsibility, Vasquez helped transform Maryland from a likely NIT team to an NCAA team.

Vasquez has scored at least 20 points in alternate games starting with his maestro performance against North Carolina. It’s his turn to pull it off again, so the Golden Bears must be wary. In his last eight games, Vasquez is averaging 21.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists, and he’s one of the few players in the field who can win a game almost entirely on his own.

PREDICTION

These are two similar teams, and like most 7-10 games, it has the look of a complete coin flip. California won only two of its last eight road games - at hapless Oregon and at reeling Arizona - while Maryland beat both N.C. State and Wake Forest on a neutral floor last week in the ACC tournament. With Vasquez and senior Dave Neal eager to validate this tournament berth, look for the Terps to squeak out a victory in what should be a tight game regardless of who wins.

Maryland 75, California 73

[7] California Golden Bears

PROJECTED STARTERS

No. Player Pos Ht Wt Yr

3 Jerome Randle G 5-10 160 Jr.

23 Patrick Christopher G 6-5 215 Jr.

24 Theo Robertson F 6-6 225 Jr.

10 Jamal Boykin F 6-8 230 Jr.

33 Jordan Wilkes C 7-0 225 Sr.

TEAM LEADERS

Category Player Avg

Points Jerome Randle 18.4

Rebounds Jamal Boykin 6.4

Assists Jerome Randle 4.9

[10] Maryland Terrapins

PROJECTED STARTERS

No. Player Pos Ht Wt Yr

22 Adrian Bowie 6-2 190 So.

21 Greivis Vasquez 6-6 190 Jr.

14 Sean Mosley 6-4 210 Fr.

1 Landon Milbourne 6-7 207 Jr.

35 Dave Neal 6-7 263 Sr.

TEAM LEADERS

Category Player Avg

Points Greivis Vasquez 17.2

Rebounds Greivis Vasquez 5.5

Assists Greivis Vasquez 5.1