College Basketball Preview: #6 Maryland (22-10) vs. Belmont (27-5)
On Tuesday, the Belmont Bruins men’s basketball team defeated Temple to earn the right to play the sixth seeded Maryland Terapins in the first (or second, depending on your beliefs) round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday. The Terps check in at a surprisingly low three point favorite in the game. Maryland is coming off of a disappointing 69-61 upset loss to the hands of Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament. The Terps will be looking to avoid the upset against a Belmont team that seems to be a popular sleeper pick among many analyst.
Mark Turgeon’s Maryland squad certainly have their work cut out for them as the Bruins were the second highest scoring team in the nation and are ranked 19th overall in KenPom’s Offensive Efficiency rating. Maryland is no slouch, coming in at 27th. A key for the Terps in terms of slowing down the Belmont offense will be to contain senior guard Dylan Windler. Windler averages 20.8 points per game and shoots 42% beyond the three point arc. Redshirt freshman Nick Muszynski can also cause a huge problem for the Terrapins. Coming in at 6’11” and weighing 235 pounds, Muszynski is quite literally a huge presence in the middle of the floor, scoring 14.9 points per game to go with 5.8 rebounds and over two blocks.
The Terps will need to start off fast, which has been a problem this year. A sluggish start will be difficult to make up against this Bruin offense. Maryland is the more talented team, but its stars must show up and not become overwhelmed by the moment. In order to win, Maryland needs to find a way to gain extra possessions. This is most likely to happen on the boards as the Terps are the nation’s worst team at causing turnovers. Maryland will look for a big day out of Sophomore forward Bruno Fernando and may need one of his double-doubles to pull off the win.
Maryland will need to shake off its loss in the Big Ten championship and refuse to allow the Cinderella talk surround Belmont to get to them. This will be a big test for Turgeon, one he needs to pass in order to remove the spotlight from his young squad. The game takes place at 3:10 P.M. today in Jacksonville and can be watched on TruTv or the March Madness Live App.