Mark Turgeon brings valuable experience to Maryland, a team making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. This will be Turgeon's sixth trip to the Big Dance, where he has compiled a 5-5 tournament record between stints at Wichita State and Texas A&M.
In Turgeon's first foray into March Madness with the Terps, he and the Maryland faithful should have a similar goal in mind...to make it to the Sweet 16. Maryland has been eliminated in the second round in its four previous trips to the tournament, with three of its early exits coming as a No. 4 seed.
The Media's 2015 Big Ten coach of the year has faced similar struggles making it out of the round of 32. During his four trips to the tourney with Texas A&M, Turgeon's teams were eliminated in the second round three times. The Aggies were ousted in the first round by Florida State in Turgeon's final season with A&M.
Turgeon does have one Sweet 16 appearance under his belt from his time with Wichita State. He led the No. 7 seeded Shockers past Seton Hall and No. 2 seed Tennessee before falling to eventual Final Four participant George Mason.
This is the highest seeded, and arguably the most talented team Turgeon has ever taken into the Tourney. His previous best was a No. 5 seed with Texas A&M in 2010. Turgeon will still need to get the most out of First Team Big Ten guard/forward Dez Wells and All-Freshman guard Melo Trimble if Maryland is to make a deep tourney run. The pair led the team in scoring, and both are capable of lighting it up from deep, as well as making devastating drives through the lane.
The Terps will face a tough road in the Midwest. It's a bracket that includes Big 12 regular season champion Kansas, ACC Tournament champion Notre Dame and the odds-on favorites to win it all, Kentucky. Maryland is battle-tested though, accruing an 8-4 record against 2015 tournament teams during the regular season. This includes wins over Wisconsin, Iowa State and a regular season sweep of Michigan State. Perhaps even more impressive is that the Terrapins are 11-1 in games decided by six points or less this season.
Maryland kicks off its tournament run against Valparaiso on Friday, March 20 at NationWide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Valparaiso has demonstrated a similar ability to pull out close games, going 11-2 in games decided by single digits this season. The Crusaders use stifling defense to keep games close, holding opponents to a season average of 59.3 points per game on 38% shooting.
Turgeon had this to say of the Horizon League champions. "They're 28-5, 13-3 in the league. That's hard to do in any league, so obviously they're a heck of a basketball team." Valparaiso is coached by Bryce Drew, a former guard for the Crusaders, best known for the buzzer beater he drained against Mississippi State in 1998 to give the school its first ever tournament win. The iconic play is a staple of March Madness highlights, but players on the current team have their eyes set on making their own memories. "We're all aware of it,'' Horizon tournament MVP Alec Peters said in an interview with Mike Lopresti of NCAA.com. "But you know what? That's history now. We've got to try to do our best to create our own.''