Neither the Terps nor Mount St. Mary’s will be making any runs in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Last night, both men’s squads faced off against their opponents in the opening round of the tournament. Maryland, cast as a surprising no. 6 seed, played Xavier University in Orlando, while the Mount took on Villanova, one of the favorites to win this year’s tournament, in Buffalo.
The Terps started off slow, missing open looks and struggling against Xavier’s big men early on, but they found their groove by the end of the first half and grabbed a 36-35 lead before halftime.
The second half was different. As Xavier began hitting shots, Maryland wasn’t able to hold them at bay. Xavier’s bench also came out strong, outscoring Maryland 30-13, per ESPN. With a couple minutes left, it was clear the Terps wouldn’t be mounting a comeback. Xavier moved on to the round of 32 with a 76-65 win.
While Xavier was only an 11 seed, a few experts foreshadowed the Terps’ loss. Some analysts said they were over-seeded, and ESPN gave 58-percent odds that the Musketeers would win.
“Our guys gave everything they had. We ran into a team that is playing well right now,” said head coach Mark Turgeon afterward, per The Washington Post.
While the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers’ 76-56 loss to no. 1-seeded Villanova was a bummer, the game as a whole wasn’t quite as disappointing. The Mount, which had to beat the University of New Orleans just to get to play in the round of 64 against ‘Nova, came out strong and led the Wildcats for most of the first half. At halftime, they were only down one point.
Unfortuantely, Villanova staved off what would have been among the greatest upsets in tournament history by starting the second half on a tear. After scoring 12 unanswered points, the Wildcats held a sizable lead over the Mount for the rest of the game.
Even though his team won, Villanova coach Jay Wright praised the underdogs from Emmitsburg and said afterward that he “thought they were the better team tonight.”
Hopefully our readers chose better than this writer, who had the Terps heading back to the Sweet 16 this year on his bracket.
A bright note: the 30-2 Lady Terps are a 3-seed in their tournament this year and have a chance to head back to the Final Four for a third time in four years. They play Bucknell today at noon on ESPN2.
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