The Maryland Terrapins came into this season with high expectations after being ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll. However, Mark Turgeon’s team comes into the NCAA Tournament slumping. The Terrapins have lost five out of their last eight games including a close 64-61 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Now Maryland is No. 5 seed in the South Region matched up against No. 12 South Dakota State, the Summit League Tournament champion.
No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-7) vs. No. 5 Maryland Terrapins (25-8)
When: 4:20 p.m. ET (Friday)
Where: Spokane Arena (Spokane, WA)
Line: Maryland -8
Keys for South Dakota State
If the Jackrabbits are to pull off the upset, they will need a big game from redshirt freshman Mike Daum. In 33 games this season, Daum is averaging 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. South Dakota State also will need to continue to shoot well from distance. The Jackrabbits average a respectable 35.7 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Keys for Maryland
In Maryland's loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament, the Terrapins’ offense struggled. Maryland managed just one field goal in the final 10 minutes and 23 seconds of that game. The Terps need Melo Trimble to shoot better this time out, as he was just 2-of-15 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point land in the loss to the Spartans.
Maryland has certainly underachieved this season, but the Tournament setting may fit its style a lot better. With a team as talented as the Terrapins, they could make a deep run this March. While South Dakota State could pull off the upset, Maryland should come out on top in this No. 5 vs. No.12 matchup.
Prediction: Maryland 73, South Dakota State 64
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)