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NCAA tournament 2010: Three things to watch

In a few hours, Maryland will take on Michigan State for the right to advance to the Sweet 16. With a win, the Terrapins will play into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. Here are a few things to keep track of during today's contest:

1) Turnovers. Although Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said Saturday that this season's Spartans squad has not rebounded as well as his teams have in years past, they still own a plus-8.8 rebounding margin, which ranks second in the nation. That being the case, Maryland's best opportunity to create transition scoring chances today will be to force Michigan State into committing turnovers. If the Terrapins can do that -- if they can create steals and fastbreak opportunties -- they'll be in much better position to establish a lead and control the game's tempo.

2) Kalin Lucas. The Michigan State junior point guard says his right ankle is 100 percent healthy, but that's a little hard to believe. He re-injured it Friday in the Spartans' first round game against New Mexico State and walked around with a slight limp on Saturday. Lucas will play today. The question is how close to 100 percent he'll actually be. Lucas is Michigan State's leading scorer, the only player Izzo truly trusts to run the Spartans' offense and one of the guys who will be charged with defending Greivis Vasquez, seeing as Chris Allen isn't going to be healthy, either. Allen could play, but his situation is more up in the air. He sprained the arch on his right foot Friday night and walked around yesterday in a boot. Michigan State will miss Allen if he can't go, but Lucas is the much more vital piece.

3) Jordan Williams. Maryland might not need -- or should expect -- him to tally 21 points and 17 rebounds like he did Friday night against Houston, but the Terrapins certainly will need him to turn in another quality performance today against a physical Michigan State squad. The Spartans are very aggressive in attacking the boards, and Williams will serve as Maryland's best countermeasure to that. It will take a team-wide effort for Maryland to keep up with Michigan State on the boards, but Williams likely will play the most crucial role in that regard.

By Steve Yanda  |  March 21, 2010; 11:07 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: NCAA tournament 2010: Maryland-Michigan State in-game live chat

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