With survive and advance the theme of March Madness, Maryland did exactly that on Thursday afternoon when they escaped the first round with a 67-65 win over West Virginia. Top-seed Alabama, meanwhile, blew past Texas A&M Corpus Christi in a 96-75 win to set up the round of 32 matchup.
Alabama opens as an 8.5-point favorite over Maryland, per DraftKings, with tipoff set for 9:40 PM on TBS with Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson on the call.
Saturday will mark the first matchup between the two teams since the 2021 NCAA Tournament when Alabama pulled out a 96-77 win in what would be Mark Turgeon’s final appearance in a postseason game at Maryland. But after Maryland battled back from several early deficits as many as 13 points against West Virginia, the Terps will need arguably their most complete game of the season against the tournament’s top overall seed.
“I just told me team just keep fighting. You get down, you don’t want to get down on yourselves. At that time, it’s battle time. Time to lock in,” Donta Scott said after the win. “Do some of the things that you probably weren’t doing before, 50-50 ones. Losing those battles. Just get after it. My team had my back, and they just grinded with me and stuck it out and had that toughness in them.”
While Jahmir Young finished just 1-of-5 from the floor with a season-high six turnovers, Julian Reese picked up the slack with 13 of his 17 points in the second half. Maryland will need another big night from Julian Reese with Charles Bediako battling inside. “I feel like we came into the game knowing they were a physical team but the start of the team we underestimated their physicality. They were able to push us off our plays and not letting us to run our offense. As the game went on, Coach made the adjustments, and we were able to adjust and make the right plays and make the right decisions and get back on defense and match their physicality over ours.”
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