Who is Maryland’s first-round opponent in the NCAA Men’s Tournament?


The Maryland men’s basketball team earned a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 9 West Virginia on Thursday in the first round. The Terrapins will open the tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, and if they beat the Mountaineers, they will face the winner of the game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi or the Southeast State. of Missouri in the second round. SATURDAY.

Maryland is to the south Region, so if the team moves to the Sweet 16, they will travel to Louisville for the second weekend of the tournament. Since 2003, the year after the Terps won the national title, the program has only reached the Sweet 16 once (in 2016); this year, that will likely require passing a top-seeded opponent.

For coach Kevin Willard, earning an NCAA Tournament bid is a significant achievement in his first season at Maryland. He took over the program a year ago after the Terps went through a tumultuous season in which Mark Turgeon quit early in the campaign. Maryland finished last season with its first losing record since 1992-93. Willard had to build a roster quickly, and four members of his eight-man rotation are new to the program.

2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Table

Maryland finished 11-9 in conference this season and won the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Terps beat Minnesota in the second round but exited after losing to Indiana in the quarterfinals.

Maryland’s regular season was marked by its perfect 10-0 record at home in the conference. The Terps have beaten five ranked teams, including Purdue (a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament) and Indiana (a No. 4 seed). Maryland also beat No. 5 seed Miami at a neutral site in November. However, the Terps had major difficulties in real road games. They were just 2-9 this season, with their only wins at Minnesota (last in the Big Ten) and Louisville (last in the ACC).

Maryland has lost three of its last four games, including back-to-back disappointments to close out the regular season. Those losses came against Ohio State and Penn State, two teams that struggled earlier in the season but have surged lately. The Buckeyes reached the Big Ten semifinals and the Nittany Lions lost in the championship. Penn State had won eight of nine games before falling to Purdue in the conference title game.

The Terps have an experienced, senior-laden squad, but for three players in Maryland’s rotation — starting point guard Jahmir Young, starting forward Julian Reese and reserve forward Patrick Emilien — this will be their first NCAA Tournament. Young (previously in Charlotte) and Emilien (Western Michigan and St. Francis in Brooklyn) never got a spot before transferring to Maryland, and Reese is just a sophomore. Young is now powering the Terps with 16.1 points per game and will soon have the opportunity to create some memorable moments in March Madness.

Maryland starters Hakim Hart and Donta Scott were part of the Terps team that beat Connecticut in the first round as the No. 10 seed in 2021 before losing to Alabama in the second round.

As Seton Hall coach for 12 seasons, Willard reached the NCAA Tournament five times but won only one game. (He missed his best chance for a run in 2020 when the Pirates needed to earn a No. 3 seed before the playoffs were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.)

When Maryland hired Willard, the coach energized the fan base by saying the team’s goals each year would be to win a Big Ten title and a national title, adding that “no other expectations are allowed in This program”. No one expected such accomplishments in his freshman season, but this tournament will be Willard’s first chance with the Terps to prove his ability on college basketball’s biggest stage.

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