After coming out victorious in a closely-contested game in the round of 64 against Valparaiso, the Maryland Terrapins will get set to face off against a much tougher opponent in the third round of the 2015 NCAA tournament.
The University of West Virginia is ranked No. 5 in the mid-west region, and they will be taking on the No. 4 seeded Terps at around 8:40 tonight in a battle that will determine who will take on the mighty Kentucky Wild Cats in the round of 32.
Both teams participated in very close games on Friday, and both games came down to the wire. The Mountaineers defeated the sharp-shooting Buffalo Bulls by a score of 68-62 in the round of 64. Just about a half-hour following, the Terps took part in their own close game in the same exact venue.
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The Terrapins nearly let the game slip away late, but a huge three-pointer by Senior guard Dez Wells put the team up by four with under two minutes remaining. Down by three in the closing seconds of the game, the Crusaders got off one last shot at an attempt to tie the game, but the shot wad denied by a man named Varun Ram.
The former walk-on swatted away Valpo’s last shot attempt with a steal to seal the victory for Maryland and send them to the next round of the tourney. Melo Trimble finished the game with a double-double, recording 14 points and ten assists in the first postseason game of his career.
With a repeat of the performance that Maryland put on display on Friday, they will be heading home tonight. However, I for one am not worried about that occurring and here’s why: Somehow, someway, the Terps always find a way to play at the level of their competition. They do not believe in beating a team by more than 15 points. With that being said, they are the king of winning close games.
That is what I envision to happen tonight against an extremely tough West Virginia team. The Mountaineers swarming defense helped them to the victory in the last round, and it will be tough for the Terps to overcome it. Starting point guard Juwan Staten leads the way for WV, averaging 14.5 points and 4.6 assists per game.
However, the Terps main focus should be on the offensive side of the ball, where they struggled to get much penetration against Valparaiso. Freshman guard Jared Nickens hit four three-pointers in the game, leading the way for Maryland, who primarily used long-range shots to come out on top in this contest.
The big sophomore Damonte Dodd recorded just eight points and two rebounds on three-of-three shooting on Friday. The reason he got such limited playing time was due to the foul trouble that he got himself into. He recorded his fifth foul with exactly one minute remaining in this game, and fouled-out because of it.
In order for Maryland to have any sort of chance of beating West Virginia or even Kentucky in the next round, Dodd will have to stay out of foul trouble and contribute largely to this team. This is March, and shortcuts can be taken.