Late-season jitters resulted in an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament for Maryland, but their strong regular season secured the Terrapins a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They will face the winner of the 11-seed play-in between the Temple Owls and Belmont Bruins.
Maryland missed the NCAA Tournament last year after going only 19-13, but were not to be denied this year after a 22-10 record that included a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten. Unfortunately, the team is reeling after losing in the first round of the B1G Tournament to No. 13 seeded Nebraska, a team the Terrapins beat twice in the regular season. Maryland typically does very well in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament though, losing there only three times in 27 appearances, so teams will surely need to be wary of Mark Turgeon’s boys.
In Fran Dunphy’s last season at Temple, the Owls snuck in as one of the final at-large NCAA Tournament teams. The team returns to the tourney for the first time since 2016, when it fell in the first round after winning the AAC. The last time a Dunphy team made it to the second round was 2013, but he has only done it three times in 16 NCAA Tournament appearances between his stints at Temple and Penn. He is being succeeded by assistant and former NBA guard Aaron McKie. The Owls are 23-9 on the year, with wins over Houston and UCF in the regular season. Shizz Alston Jr. leads a trio of double-digit scorers at guard, with 19.7 points per game, along with five assists.
Belmont was arguably the biggest surprise to come out of the East. The Ohio Valley regular season co-champions lost in the Conference Tournament Championship Game to Murray State, but only after a tremendous season as arguably the top team in the conference. With a high-octane offense that regularly scored upwards of 90 points, Rick Byrd’s team hopes that this will be the year they secure their first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
Belmont is IN!
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 17, 2019
Date: Thursday, March 21
Time: Approx. 3:10 p.m. ET
TV Channel: truTV
Location: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida
Announcers: Ian Eagle / Jim Spanarkel // Jamie Erdahl
Prediction: The Terrapins have not been playing their best basketball lately. They’ve lost three of their last four with two of those losses coming against teams they had no business losing to.
That said, Maryland tends to save its best for the NCAA Tournament. While Temple and Belmont are certainly no pushovers, the Terrapins have had plenty of extra time to recharge and prepare for another tournament run.
Maryland will beat the winner of Temple/Belmont.