After year one of the Kevin Willard era, Maryland basketball is officially back in the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland has drawn an eight-seed and will face West Virginia in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday with a matchup against top overall seed Alabama.
It’s a stellar finish for a team projected to finish tenth in the Big Ten with several newcomers in an expected transition year. After its first losing season in 30 years and missing the tournament last season, Maryland fans will now hope for the deep tournament run that fans haven’t seen in years.
Maryland will look to advance to the second round for the first time since 2021 and advance to the second weekend for the first time since 2016.
Donate to Turtle NIL here to help Maryland basketball and enter ‘IBG’ in the comment
Kevin Willard became the first head coach to open the season 8-0 as Maryland climbed as high as sixth in the NET and 13th in the AP top 25, but a tough December stretch reset season expectations. After opening the new year with consecutive road losses to Michigan and Rutgers, Maryland took care of business at home to regain momentum as Jahmir Young began making his case as a possible first team All-Big Ten selection.
Maryland’s renewed expectation as a possible eight or nine came to fruition following consecutive road losses to both Ohio State and Penn State to end the regular season, plummeting the Terps from second to sixth in the Big Ten standings. While the Terps dominated inside Xfinity Center en route to a 16-1 record, including 10-0 in conference play, Maryland’s 2-9 record on the road plagued Maryland’s season at finishing the regular season as a possible second or third seed in the conference. After defeating Minnesota in the opening game, Maryland bowed out of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday night after a 70-60 loss to 19th-ranked Indiana.
What gives Kevin Willard confidence that the Terps can overcome its road struggles? Look no further than the 3-1 record on neutral courts which includes wins over Saint Louis and Miami (Fl.). “ I think just getting back on a neutral court was really nice, to be honest with you,” Willard said after the Minnesota win. “We’ve played well neutral. So I just thought after two tough losses on the road and playing really well the two games before that, it was good to just kind of get a different feel.”
Maryland also ends the regular season with one of its best defensive seasons in over 40 years after allowing just 62.9 points per game. The last season Maryland allowed less than 63 points per game? 1981-82, before both the three-point line and shot clock were implemented in the ACC.
Tipoff times have not yet been announced.
Virginia DB getting comfortable after latest visit to Maryland (+)
Terps cage up Great Danes on the road in a 16-9 win
Maryland’s second-half scoring struggles allow Indiana to advance to tournament semifinals with 70-60 win