The Maryland Terrapins took on the Valparaiso Crusaders on Friday evening in the round of 64. The Terrapins came into this game as favorites, but you can never predict what's going to happen this time of year.
This one turned out to be closer than what Maryland fans would've liked. Both teams traded buckets throughout the first half. Maryland ended the frame on a 14 to 6 run and took a 4 point lead into the break. The Crusaders didn't go away quietly in the second half. Valparaiso fought back to tie the game, but they were never able to take a lead in the second half. Senior Dez Wells put the game away with a huge and-one layup with under 2 minutes to play. Maryland walk-on Varun Ram had a last second swipe to finish off the Crusaders. The Terrapins hung-on to win this one 65-62.
What We Learned
Jared Nickens can provide a huge spark off the bench
He showed that he can provide a spark off the bench for the Terrapins. He finished with 14 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc. Nickens did a great job of stepping up and knocking down shots when his number was called.
You can be the hero of the game and only play 13 seconds
Walk-on senior Varun Ram was the hero of this one by knocking the ball away from Valparaiso's Keith Carter in the closing seconds of the game. He prevented the Crusaders from attempting a game tying 3, and in turn saved the game for the Terrapins. Ram was only put into the game in the closing 13 seconds because of his defensive prowess. He certainly came up big in this one.
It's every walk-ons dream to have a game saving play like this. Ram only played in 55 minutes going into this game. Obviously it was a thrill for him to come up with a play like that. Stories like this are why we love the game.
Dez Wells can close games out for Maryland
Wells was phenomenal all game, but he made his biggest mark down the stretch. He came up with a huge offensive board with under 2 minutes to play, and converted the layup through contact and drew a foul. He knocked down his and-one foul shot and gave the Terrapins a 4 point lead. That right there is what you want your senior leader to do. Wells wasn't going to let his team get upset in the round of 64.
Maryland isn't afraid to play close games in the tournament either
This game was too close for comfort for Maryland, but then again they should be used to it by now. With the win the Terrapins are now 12-1 on the season in games that are decided by 6 or fewer points. Maryland showed us all season they have what it takes to win close games. On Friday they showed they weren't afraid to do it in the NCAA Tournament as well.
Maryland was able to survive a scare against the 13th seeded Valparaiso. It was closer than Maryland and their fans would've liked it to be, but in the tournament the only thing that matters is that you get the win. The Terrapins will play the 5th seeded West Virginia Mountaineers on Sunday, who are coming off a close game of their own against the 12th seeded Buffalo Bulls. That should be a good one.