With the first day of the Round of 64 games in the books, it was clear to see that my bracket wasn’t making it to the next round unscathed. Going into Day 2 of the second round, I had correctly predicted 12 out of 16 games, putting my bracket in the 92nd percentile. With the way this year’s tourney is going, that’s not going to last. After watching Iowa State and Baylor get upset yesterday, you have to ponder, could the Maryland Terrapins be next?
Thus far in the tournament, there has not been any 13-4 upsets as Georgetown handled Eastern Washington and UNC squeaked by Harvard. There was at least one 13-4 upset for 6 consecutive years prior to last year’s tournament. Could that spell doom for the Terps?
According to The Count, which leverages a statistical regression model to predict upsets, Valparaiso has a 53.6% chance of beating Maryland, making it the only double-digit seed with the odds on their side. Although the model has been fairly accurate over the last four tournaments, this year’s prediction had Xavier and Maryland as the most vulnerable for an upset. Xavier already blew out Ole Miss, and I believe the Terps will take care of business later today.
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Valparaiso is just 2-8 in their NCAA tournament appearances, but should not be overlooked. They allow the 18th fewest points in the nation and are known for its defensive prowess. They are also one of the better rebounding teams, ranking 38th in total rebounds.
Maryland struggles on the boards, as they are ranked 103rd in all of college basketball in terms of total team-rebounds. Despite playing teams far inferior to Maryland in conference play, Valparaiso is ranked 28th when it comes to Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, which differs based on the opponent. The Crusaders have also held opposing teams to a 38% field goal percentage, which is ranked 7th in the nation.
This game isn’t going to be a cakewalk for the Terps, but it’s not as if the team has not faced stingy defenses in the past. Wisconsin is ranked 9th in the nation in terms of scoring defense, and despite that, Maryland was still able to defeat them.
In the Terps only non-conference loss of the season, they faced Virginia, who is ranked 3rd in the nation in terms of field goal percentage against. The Cavaliers hold opposing teams to 36.1% shooting from the field. However, when they came to Maryland, the Terps were able to make 40% of their field goals, which is only 3.8% below their season average.
Valparaiso is led by Alec Peters, a sophomore forward who is averaging 16.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Peters shoots 46.2% from beyond the arc and will provide match-up challenges for the Terps.
Maryland’s three-headed monster of Melo Trimble, Dezmine Wells, and Jake Layman will be tough for Valparaiso to overcome. However, they will need to get major contributions from two of the three to have a chance of making noise in the tournament. As was evident in the Michigan State game, one player won’t be able to carry the team.
Maryland has not lost back-to-back games this season and I don’t see that trend starting today. Although the Crusaders will pose a challenge; the luckiest-team in the NCAA, according to KenPom, will find a way to avoid an early-round exit.