Maryland Terrapins: From Big Ten elimination to March Madness success
Fri, Mar 17, 2023
exited the Big Ten Tournament quarter-finals last week to then produce an
impressive NCAA Tournament comeback and upset versus West Virginia last night.
Sixth-seeded Maryland men's basketball failed to overcome a relentless Indiana during the quarter-finals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday, March 8, 2023 (70-60).
It isn't new news that NCAA fixtures in March primarily rely on a team's most talented players showing up on any given night. This reigned true on Friday, as All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and freshman star Jalen Hood-Schifino delivered the goods.
Whether the tag-team duo could perform was questionable, as they failed to impress versus Maryland earlier this season. Ultimately losing 66-55 in a game where Jackson-Davis delivered a commendable 18 points and 20 rebounds, but Hood-Schifino played one of his worst performances of the season.
However, neither man surrendered to the Terps last Friday, Jackson-Davis put up 24 points and nine rebounds, but the difference-maker was Hood-Schifino, who netted 19 points and a clutch three-pointer as the shot clock dwindled late in the game.
"The three he made at the end of the shot clock, he's a pro. That's what pros do. " Pros make big-time shots," said Maryland's head coach, Kevin Willard. "But I thought the transition was the biggest difference."
Before Friday's loss, Maryland was expected to be an eighth seed in the NCAA Tournament. This would result in an opening game with a nine-seed and a squad that can match up well with the Terps, but more worryingly, a second-round battle with the No.1 seed.
Speculation reigned true, as Maryland received the No.8 seed and was scheduled to battle with No.9 seed West Virginia. However, to some, an accomplishment has already surfaced as the preseason expectation of Maryland not making it to March Madness has been proven wrong. That said, victory was needed in the NCAA Tournament first round to keep fans' happy. Either way, Willard presented high hopes before the first March Madness battles.
"I love my team; I don't know what I have to refocus," he said. "We've won 21 games. Come Selection Sunday, we'll celebrate the fact that – again, we lost at Ohio State, who is in the semifinals and just won 6 out of 7, and we lost on a buzzer-beater at Penn State, which has now won 7 of 8. I'm not refocusing anything. I will celebrate, and we will have a big party on Sunday."
Celebrations and a refusal to refocus anything with the Terps proved well, as they turned up to face West Virginia this past Thursday and were involved in a thrilling basketball game.
Madness Round 1: No. 8 Maryland defeats No.9 West Virginia 67-65
Maryland entered the game 4-2 against the spread from their previous six games, so when bettors saw the MD moneyline priced at +120, an excellent wagering opportunity was presented – even more so if a DK bonus was utilized because DraftKings Maryland promo codes are one of the best available.
However, a rocky start didn't give NCAA handicappers supporting the Terps a great feeling. A 13-point deficit wasn't looking good. But then, in their largest comeback of the season, Maryland fought back, and it was Julian Reese leading the team with 17 points, and nine rebounds as Hakim Hart (15 points) with a steal and dunk put the Terps ahead with 3:44 left on the clock.
WVU head coach Bob Huggins explained the reasoning behind his team's downfall, as 12 turnovers and 24 fouls were the core of what ended the Mountaineers' season in heartbreak.
"We were a little careless with the ball, and they made shots. They made shots," Huggins commented postgame. "They started backing us in. We didn't match up very well with them when they started matching us in – or backing us in, rather. It wasn't a good matchup for us."
The Terrapins impressively finished with four starts shooting double figures who notably netted all but five of their points. Despite owning the more significant rotation and fresh bodies, WVU couldn't do anything to prevent the Maryland comeback.
Unfortunately for the Terps, the celebrations might be cut short. In the second round, they'll face the toughest challenge of their season when faced with top-seeded Alabama – one of the favorites to win the national championship.