With the NCAA Selection Show less than a week away now, all of the Bracketology experts and gurus are generating mock tournament brackets seemingly by the hour with the ever-changing landscape of conference tournaments results. Upsets have already occurred in the mid-major conference tournament ranks, which could serve as an indicator of what's to come in the big dance.
The Maryland Terrapins have been hovering around the 3-4 seed line in most projections as of late, and could potentially move up with an impressive showing in the Big Ten Tournament this week. The Terrapins have clinched a double-bye which means only three wins will be needed in order to claim the 2016 Big Ten Conference Tournament championship.
The NCAA tournament will pose more problems as the stakes are elevated and the wins needed to cut down the nets double from the conference tournament. Even with five potential NBA players in the starting five, Maryland has seen a variety of styles that have managed to stymie them and come away victorious against the Terps. Intense pressure defenses, small ball offense and superior rebounding have gotten the best of Maryland this season, and could be problematic in the tournament. Here is a list of non-conference teams that Terrapin fans do not want to see in the NCAA tournament.
This is an obvious choice amongst Terrapins fans, as the Mountaineers were the reason for Maryland's exit in the 2015 NCAA tournament. Head coach Bob Huggins has his staff in a solid position for a deep run this year with a defense that ranks second in the country in turnovers forced with 18.13 per game. One of Maryland's biggest issues this season has been taking care of the basketball - the Terps average 13 turnovers per game, but that number tends to escalate when they face hard-nosed pressure defenses.
The lack of a consistent backup point guard for the Terps has been a cause for concern as the season has progressed. Senior Varun Ram has played more of a defensive specialist role, and sophomore transfer guard Jaylen Brantley hasn't been a consistent spell for Melo Trimble like many expected when the season started. Senior Rasheed Sulaimon has shown he is a capable facilitator, but he may be called to be more of a defender against Mountaineer guard Jaysean Paige, who has shown the ability to explode for big scoring outputs.
The Mountaineers also average 40 rebounds per game, which has also been a problem for the Terrapins throughout the season. Diamond Stone, Robert Carter Jr. and Damonte Dodd would have their work cut out for them against Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton.
A potential foe in the second round, per ESPN's Joe Lunardi's March 4 bracketology, the Crusaders ended the regular season with an impressive 26-5 record. Maryland fans know all too well the danger that Valparaiso possesses. The Crusaders are led by junior Alec Peters, who boasts an impressive 17.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Perhaps the most dangerous facet of Peters' game is his offensive versatility - Peters is averaging over 50 percent from the field, 85 percent from the charity stripe and about 46 percent from three-point range at 6-9, 230 pounds.
The defensive prowess of the Crusaders also serves as a reason for concern for Maryland. Valpo ranks sixth in the country in scoring defense by only allowing 61 points per game.
Without senior Amile Jefferson, the Blue Devils may not have all the pieces to make a deep run, but there is no denying the offensive firepower Duke possesses with the trio of Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard. Heading into their showdown with arch rival North Carolina, the tree combined for an impressive 49.6 points per game and can score in a variety of ways. Maryland would have an upper hand down low, but having three capable scorers on the wing would be troublesome for the Terrapins.
The Bulldogs could pose problems against the Terrapins on the glass. Yale ranks second in the country in with a +11.1 rebound margin. Maryland's big lineup hasn't been able to control the glass consistently against competition this year. Yale also packs a punch in the scoring column with a trio of Bulldogs who average double figures. Justin Sears lead the way with a 15.8 point per game average and Brandon Sherrod totals 12.4 per game, per ESPN.
Maryland has the firepower and the talent to make a deep run in the tournament, but in a single elimination setting, anything is possible. The Terrapins have high expectations by some, but the key to longevity in March is solid guard play. Trimble was able to snap out of his slump against Illinois, but in high pressure situations like March Madness, it'll be interesting to see if he can stay on track and carry the weight of hefty expectations on his shoulders.