NCAA Tournament: Terps vs. Valparaiso Preview


The NCAA Tournament has begun and every team in the tournament wants the national championship crown… including the Maryland Terrapins. Their first challenge is the Valparaiso Crusaders, a team who has playing lights out in their own right with a 28-5 overall record and 13-3 Horizon League record. Winners of the Horizon League title, the Crusaders are led by:

  1. Alec Peters: The 6-foot-9-inch sophomore forward averages 16.7 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game and shoots at 46 percent from the three-point line. Because of his size, length and ability to shoot the three ball, he presents a threat to the Terps’ defense because of that added element.
  2. Darien Walker: The 6-foot-3-inch junior guard averages 10.8 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. He also shoots at a good percent from deep at 36 percent. He shoots about four three’s a game but has a sub par shooting percentage from the field at 39 percent. The Terps can take advantage of that by pressure him with good on-ball defense. In addition, they can foul him because he is poor free throw shooter at 63 percent.

The Terps come into the NCAA Tournament injury-free which is good because they have depth and get guys in-and-out of the rotation. It will be interesting to see what head coach Mark Turgeon does with the starting lineup. Going small would work with the transition game while going with a big starting lineup would help the Terps defensively inside.

The three-headed monster  I like to call Dezmine Wells, Jake Layman and Melo Trimble have to get going early in the only ways that matter: scoring, rebounding and defense. All three players do a great job at those things. 

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Wells is almost Lebron-like when he brings the ball down the court  in transition and attacks the basket with reckless abandon. He is one of the best in the game at that.

Layman would serve the Terps best as a rebounder and three-point shooter in this game. If he can get hot from the three-point line, it would be a big help to the Terps offensively and open up the lane for opportunities to drive to the basket.

Ultimately, this game will be won on the defensive end. As we saw in the Michigan State game in the Big Ten Tournament, the Terps lost the game due to a defensive collapse that caused foul trouble. The Terps have to control the paint without fouling. Great defense in the paint includes rebounding as well. They have to be physical on the boards and prevent Valparaiso from getting second chance points.

Game time is 4:40 pm Friday and can be seen on TNT.

Score Prediction:

Next: How the Terps can win the Midwest Region

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