NCAA Tournament 2015: How Terps Can Survive Midwest Region


Mar 15, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats players celebrate in the closing seconds of the second half of the SEC Conference Championship game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bridgestone Arena. Kentucky won 78-63. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Whether Maryland basketball fans agree with the Terps being a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament or not is irrelevant. They’re where they are and in the end, the team that deserves to win will do just that. It does seem, however, that they got the short end of stick, being placed in the Midwest Region, which features the best team in the country: the Kentucky Wildcats.

Maryland finished the regular season as one of the top ten teams in the nation. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. In the opening round, they will take on No. 13 Valparaiso, who won the Horizon League championship. Evey year, there are major upsets in the tournament, so Mark Turgeon will need to make sure his team doesn’t fall victim.

The first step to this team surviving the region is to take care of business and fend off the Crusaders. The Terps will need to key in on Alec Peters, the Crusaders’ best player. Peters averaged 16.7 points and 6.8 rebounds for the season. He’s a very skilled player and has to potential to give Maryland some problems. If they stop him, they should have no problem advancing to the next round. 

More from The Baltimore Wire

Next, the Terps would face either West Virginia or Buffalo. I like Bobby Hurley’s Bulls to shock the Mountaineers and advance to play Maryland. Once again, the Terps cannot fall into the trap. Just like Valparaiso, Buffalo is a mid-major team that should not be taken lightly.

Another similarity between the two teams is that they boast a talented big man. Justin Moss is 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds. He’s averaging 17.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. If Maryland is able to take him out of the game, the Bulls do not have enough talent to beat them.

Mar 14, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Maryland Terrapins cheerleaders perform during the first half in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament against the Michigan State Spartans at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us to Kentucky. There is no cookie-cutter way to beat Big Blue because it’s never been done. The Wildcats went an impressive 34-0 this season and they’ve looked nearly unstoppable along the way. However, if you look really closely, they actually aren’t invincible.

In SEC play, Kentucky was challenged by a number of inferior opponents. Ole Miss took them to overtime, Texas A&M forced double overtime, and LSU lost to them by two points. Heck, even Columbia kept it close with them, losing by only ten. None of those teams are as good as Maryland.

So, what happens when the Wildcats get pushed by a quality team? Sure, their roster is full of first-round NBA draft picks, but the Terps have some future pros as well. Melo Trimble has had to hear about Kentucky’s freshmen all season long and I’m sure he’d love to show the country why he deserves more credit. Senior leader Dez Wells has been fantastic down the stretch and he and Trimble provide the type of backcourt scoring Kentucky hasn’t seen this season.

If the bigs of Maryland step up the way Turgeon has expected them to all season long, the Terps definitely have a chance. They will have their hands full though because Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns are both elite talents that could go in the top ten picks in the 2015 NBA Draft. This game has the potential to be a great one if they can. 

More from Maryland Terrapins

Let’s assume Maryland is able to pull off the monumental upset. I see Notre Dame coming out of the bottom of the bracket, setting up a matchup with the Terps in the Elite 8. You can’t talk about the Fighting Irish without first mentioning Jerian Grant. He’s averaging 16.8 per game this year and shooting almost 50 percent from the field. The Irish go as he goes and he’ll be the reason why Notre Dame advances or goes home.

Beyond Grant, Notre Dame is a deep team with a balanced attack. Pat Connaughton and Zach Auguste are guys who can put the ball in the basket, both averaging more than 12 points a game. The Irish are a fundamentally sound team that loves to share the ball. That’s why they are the ACC champions.

However, if the Terps do beat Kentucky, who else is left for them to fear? The answer is no one. They approach the rest of the tournament the same way and let the chips fall where they may.

With that being said, here are three keys for Maryland to survive the Midwest:

1. Take Care of Business

Do not take any opponent for granted. This is March and anything can happen. Just ask Duke, who falls to weaker teams year after year.

2. Be Aggressive

The Terps cannot afford to fall in love with the three-ball. They must attack the basket consistently and get to the free throw line.

3. Believe

When a shark smells blood, they go for the kill. Don’t let yourself bleed. They must step on the court as if they belong and play accordingly.

Now, this is not my prediction of what will happen in the NCAA Tournament. This is to give fans a little bit of hope in the midst of their doubt and skepticism. Enough with the moaning and groaning Terps fans. This is March Madness. Crazier things have happened.

Stay tuned to the Baltimore Wire for in-depth coverage of the 2015 NCAA Tournament!

Next: Lady Terps Earn No. 1 Seed