A more relaxed scene at Comcast Center this time around
A short while before the NCAA tournament selection show, senior forward Landon Milbourne and senior guard Eric Hayes discussed possible first round sites to which Maryland might get sent. The Terrapins already knew they were a lock to make the Field of 65. Tonight was simply about formalities, which is to say it was nothing like last season's Selection Sunday, when the Terrapins sweated it out until their name was called.
"I was just hoping that we didn’t go back to Buffalo," Milbourne said, referring to the first round site Maryland was sent to in 2007.
"Spokane was probably next in line to Buffalo," Hayes said of the first round sites to which he and Milbourne preferred not to get sent.
"I don’t know if where we’re going is any better, but, you know, we’re not really worried about place," Milbourne said. "We just got to make sure we advance and get some wins in this tournament."
The Terrapins (23-8) earned the No. 4 seed and will face No. 13-seed Houston (19-15), the winner of the Conference-USA tournament, on Friday in Spokane, Wash. Maryland's game likely will tip-off around 10 p.m. eastern time, as it will be played at the conclusion of the first round matchup between Michigan State and New Mexico State (7:20 p.m. EST).
Last season, Maryland advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament after defeating California in Round One. At that point, Hayes said, the Terrapins became complacent, as they had been happy just to have earned a bid in the first place. Maryland lost to Memphis in the second round.
"This year, you know, we’re more focused and we know we can do damage in the tournament and we can get far if we play as well as we can," Hayes said. "So I think just the mind-set may be a little different."
I'll put up a much more extensive post on Houston tomorrow, but for now, here's a primer:
- The Cougars would not have made the NCAA tournament had they not upset Texas-El Paso in the Conference-USA title game.
- By leading Houston to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 18 years, sixth-year Coach Tom Penders likely saved his job. Speculation lingered nearly all season that Penders's job was in jeopardy.
- Cougars senior guard Aubrey Coleman led the nation in scoring, averaging 25.6 points per game. Coleman also ranked No. 7 in the nation in steals (2.7 spg).
- It would appear Houston knows how to take pretty good care of the ball, which will make for an interesting matchup against Maryland's pressure defense. The Cougars ranked No. 1 in the country in turnover margin (+7.8) and only gave up an average of 9.1 turnovers per game, which ranked No. 2 in the country.
- The Cougars aren't shy from three-point range. They attempted an average of 8.3 three-point field goals per game, which ranked No. 18 in the nation. They made 35.6 percent of those shots.
- Houston's defense, by and large, has been pretty weak (74.6 ppg allowed), and the Cougars have not rebounded well at all (-8.1 rebounding margin).
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