NCAA Tournament: Maryland vs. West Virginia Preview


The Maryland Terrapins survived their scare on Friday night and are rewarded with a third round matchup with their rivals from West Virginia for a chance to make it to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.

The Terps (28-6) defeated Valparaiso, 65-62, and were led by a double-double from Melo Trimble. The USBWA All-Freshman selection had 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in the win. Senior guard Dezmine Wells and freshman guard Jared Nickens also scored 14 points each. The victory was Maryland’s first win in the NCAA Tournament since the 2010 season.

Bob Huggins has his team in position to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010, when the team advance all the way to the Final Four. The fifth-seeded Mountaineers (24-9) advanced to the third round with a 68-62 win over the Buffalo Bulls. West Virginia is led by senior point guard Juwan Staten, the unquestioned leader who has been battling a knee injury of late. He scored 15 points in Friday’s win after missing the previous four games. 

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The key to the game will be how Maryland handles the Mountaineers press defense. They force a NCAA-best 28.1 percent of opposing possessions. The key will be for Trimble to effectively handle the basketball. West Virginia’s defense does draw a lot of fouls, and Trimble is one of the best in the country at knocking down free throws. The Mountaineers are also strong on the glass, where the Terps struggle mightily.

”West Virginia plays a style that we haven’t seen all year,” said Turgeon. ”So we’ll have to prep for that. It’s that time of year. You give guys some information and prepare for them for certain things and hopefully you play well.”

The Terps advanced to the round of 32 winners of nine of their last 10 games. However, not all is good with Mark Turgeon’s squad. Outside Trimble, Nickens and Wells, the rest of the team combined for just 23 points on Friday night. They need someone outside of Trimble and Wells contribute. For someone who is considered by some scouts as a potential NBA player, Jake Layman needs to step up. Now is not the time to play scared.

The rival schools have met 37 times, but the only time they have played in an NCAA Tournament was in 1984 in a second-round game in Birmingham, Alabama. The Terrapins got 19 points from then-center Ben Coleman and 18 from the legendary Len Bias in a 102-77 victory.

The prize for a win tonight will be to move on to the Midwest regional semi-final against Kentucky next weekend. Well, realistically it could be Cincinnati also, but let’s just make the assumption that the Wildcats will roll through the Bearcats.

Tip-off for tonight’s matchup is at 8:40 p.m. and the game can be seen on TNT.

Next: Terps advance in a nail-biter

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