NCAA Tournament: Maryland Terrapins on upset alert


Maryland, hope you were watching the start of March Madness.

The NCAA Tournament started with all the excitement and drama that you were hoping for. Two No. 13-seeds knocked off higher seeded Big 12 teams in the opening hours of the tournament. It is the first time since 1995 that two 13-seeds will advance to the round of 32.

UAB was the first to bust those brackets, downing Iowa State, 60-59. Within an hour, Baylor was the next to fall as Georgia State shocked the Bears, 57-56, behind a late three by R.J. Hunter to seal the win. The best moment of the tournament thus far has to be the reaction by Ron Hunter, the Panthers head coach and also R.J.’s father, who fell out of his chair after the game-winning shot.

Maybe the selection committee did Maryland a favor by not naming them a No. 3-seed.

The 12th-ranked Maryland Terrapins (27-6) have every right to be upset about their seeding. They should have been the third seed in the East and playing a game in Pittsburgh. Instead, they have a tough opening round matchup in Columbus, Ohio, and find themselves in the same region as No. 1 overall seed Kentucky Wildcats.

Valparaiso (28-5) won both the regular season and conference tournament championships to earn their ninth berth to the Big Dance. There last tournament appearance came in 2013 in which they lost to Michigan State, 65-54, in the first round. They have not won a tournament game since 1998 when then-player and now-coach, Bryce Drew, hit what is known to college basketball fans as “The Shot.”

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The two teams’ sole common opponent this season in the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, which Maryland defeated 72-56 on Dec. 27. Valpo split their season series with Oakland.

Outside of the Maryland region, a lot of so-called “experts” have predicted that the Terps are a prime candidate for an upset. ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight gave the Crusaders a 28 percent chance to defeat Maryland, the highest percentage of teams with a 4-seed or better.

The Terps have a tendency to play down to their opponent and must realize that they cannot look down on this Crusaders team. They need to come out angry about their seeding and make a statement early. At a time when one sloppy game could signal the end of a season, Maryland needs to play their best basketball yet.

Maryland has the tools to get out of the region. You can make an argument that of all the teams in the Midwest region, the Terps could be Kentucky’s toughest matchup. The Terps have NBA talents of their own who would love to show the country that it is not just the Kentucky boys who will play at the next level.

Let’s not get carried away though. Valpo is the task at hand.

Otherwise, Maryland could be the next highlight of a lower seed knocking off a superior opponent.

Next: Preview: Terps vs. Valparaiso

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