Nuts & Bolts
Date: March 18, 2023
Time: 9:40 p.m. ET
Venue: Legacy Arena, Birmingham, AL
How to Watch: TBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson
NCAA Tournament Bracket: HERE
Matchup History: Maryland leads all-time series 4-2
Last Meeting: Alabama def. Maryland 96-77 in NCAA Tournament on 3/22/21
Betting Lines: Via DraftKings
Spread: Alabama -8.5
Prediction: Alabama 79, Maryland 64
Official Maryland Game Notes: HERE
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Zach Penrice - DMV Sports: https://twitter.com/Zach_DMVSports
What a gutsy win for Maryland on Thursday to open up the NCAA Tournament.
The Terrapins trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, coming out ice cold against West Virginia. Maryland scored just 6 points in the first ten minutes of the game, and at worst trailed 19-6 in the opening half.
Maryland closed the first half on a 26-11 run to take a 32-30 lead at the break.
Again, Maryland came out flat to start the next half and trailed by as many as 9. The Terps hung in the game, in part due to a huge game from sophomore forward Julian Reese, who led the team with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks.
With just under four minutes to go, Maryland retook the lead over West Virginia, who led most of the second half. From there, the Terps never trailed again and hung on to a massive 67-65 victory in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I think Julian Reese has been one of if not the best big man in the Big Ten Conference for the last two months,” Maryland Head Coach Kevin Willard said after the win. “And so anyone that’s surprised by what he did today hasn’t been watching us.”
The win sets up a matchup with the #1 team in the country, Alabama. The Tide are 30-5 and pose the biggest test for Maryland they’ve faced all season.
But if Fairleigh Dickinson can beat Purdue, Maryland can most definitely beat Alabama. The win would shock the college basketball world and vault the Terps to the Sweet 16 and a date with San Diego State.
Make no mistake, Alabama is the best team in the country. With that said, the best team in the country seldom wins the national championship. Alabama is beatable, but it is not going to be easy.
The Tide enter Saturday’s game coming off a dominant 96-75 win over Texas A&M CC in the opening round. Alabama led by 20 at the half and coasted to an easy victory. In the win, The Tide’s best player, Brandon Miller, didn’t score a single point. He averages over 20 per game and had scored in double-figures in all but one game before Thursday’s win.
So the team's best player didn’t score and they still put up 96 points. Yes, it’s against a 16 seed but try telling that to Purdue.
Of course, the main storyline surrounding Alabama is Brandon Miller and his possible connection to a murder of a woman back on January 15. Former Tide player Darius Miles and another man are the primary suspects, and Miller’s level of involvement is not fully known.
However, there have not been any charges brought against Miller and it seems to be that he has been nothing more than a ‘cooperating witness’ according to police.
From a purely basketball standpoint, it’s been quite the off-court distraction for Alabama. And yet, the Tide has not been deterred, winning the SEC regular season and conference tournament on the way to the most wins in school history.
Alabama is #1 in the country in defensive rebounds per game and defensive 2-point percentage. Essentially, they are very good at defending near the rim and are very good at preventing second chances for opponents.
In order to beat them, you have to make shots while locking down on defense. In Alabama’s losses this year, they’ve surrendered an average of 82 PPG. On the year, they give up 68.7 PPG.
In losses, Alabama has scored an average of 69.2 PPG. On the season, the Tide average 82.6 PPG, the 5th best mark in the country.
In order to beat them, your shooters have to be hot and Alabama’s need to be cold.
Entering the tournament, Alabama was held below its season average four games in a row. Of course, that ended against Texas A&M CC but Maryland’s defense is what has gotten them here.
The Terps have to have one of their better shooting games while defending the way we know they can.
If they do that, they’ll have a chance. If not, the best team will do what they do: Win.