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NCAA Tournament 2017 Preview: How Maryland stacks up against Xavier

NCAA Tournament 2017 Preview: How Maryland stacks up against Xavier

Maryland earned a No. 6 seed in the west region of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Sunday and will take on No. 11 seed Xavier.

It's a position Maryland fans did not expect to see the team in prior to the start of the season, what with the departures of Jake Layman, Diamond Stone and Robert Carter.

But with Melo Trimble playing at an All-American level and rise of freshman Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson, the Terps entered Big Ten play with a 12-1 record and finished the season with 24 wins, finishing in third place in the Big Ten.

Across the seed line stands Xavier, a team that entered the season as a Final Four darkhorse. But the Musketeers hopes for a first trip to the Final Four were dashed when Edmond Sumner, their top player, tore his ACL in late January. The Muskeeters went 15-6 with Sumner but finished the season 6-7 without him.

But a non-conference resume with wins over Clemson, Utah, and Wake Forest, along with Big East wins over Seton Hall, Creighton, Butler and Georgetown was enough to earn Musketeers their 27th bid to the NCAA Tournament.

But how do the two teams matchup? Who will win? Let's break it down.

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Maryland vs. Xavier Preview

Maryland, by many expert's accounts, is the most overseeded team in the entire 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The Terps are ranked No. 45 by KenPom. The three other No. 6 seeds are all within the top 27 of the KenPom rankings. At No. 45, Maryland's resume is more comparible to an No. 11 seed, like Xavier.

Maryland vs. Xavier Key Players:
Maryland: Melo Trimble, G (17.0 ppg, 3.7 ppg). Anthony Cowan, G (10.5 ppg, 3.7 apg, 1.2 spg), Justin Jackson (10.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 43.1 3P%)
Xavier: Trevon Bluiett, G (18.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 43.6 FG%). J.P. Marcura, G (14.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 spg). RaShid Gaston, F (7.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

Melo Trimble is the straw that stirs Maryland's drink.

He ranks No. 86 nationally and possession percentage, meaning only 85 players in the country have the ball in their hands more than Trimble. Trimble excels at getting to the rim and drawing contract, ranking in the top 200 nationally in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. While Maryland lacks bench production and frontcourt size, Trimble has the ability to put the entire team on his shoulders, a trait that is accentuated during March Madness.

But the Terps most important player aside from Trimble might just be freshman forward Justin Jackson. The lanky swingman is boom or bust, as evident by his 15 games with at least 11 points and his 17 games with less than 10 points. Jackson has a smooth stroke and can take his man off the dribble with ease. But he has to get going early and often. Maryland doesn't have enough depth to have Trimble, Cowan and Huerter do all the work.

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Strengths:
Maryland: Guard play, 3-point shooting, ball movement
Xavier: Guard play, shooting, offensive rebounding

Maryland has Melo Trimble. Xavier has Trevon Bluiett. Those two players can carry a team on their backs in a "survive and advance" setting. In fact, both teams are strong in the backcourt. Wiry shooting guard J.P. Marcura doesn't get nearly enough attention. His matchup with Kevin Huerter will be fun to watch. Maybe not as fun as Bluiett vs. Trimble. But that may be one of the best 1-on-1 matchups in the entire bracket.

Weaknesses:
Maryland: Lack of bench production, no frontcourt depth
Xavier: Field-goal defense, no frontcourt depth

Maryland has too many veteran role players on the bench to struggle so much to get bench scoring and production. Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley, LG Gill and Jared Nickens should all be capable of providing a spark on the fairly regular basis, but that just hasn't been the case this season. The Maryland bench has accounted for just 25% of the team's overall production.  

The Terps also lack talent and size in the frontcourt. Damonte Dodd is a serviceable big man who is forced to play starters minutes and Ivan Bender is an athletic 6-9 forward off the bench who has provided minor sparks, but has been unable to really cement himself as a capable threat. With Michael Cekovsky sidelined with an injured, 6-8 LG Gill is the only other true frontcourt player on the roster.

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Maryland vs. Xavier Keys to Victory:
Xavier is not a great offensive rebounding team, which means Maryland has to make them pay for their misses. The Terps are strong at getting out on the break and need to convert missed shots into points, or trips to the foul line at the very least. Maryland can be turnover-prone from time to time, and considering Xavier is a sup-par team in terms of steals, the Terps cannot give the Musketeers and free plays.

Maryland vs. Xavier Prediction: 
avier is a trendy pick to spring the upset. Xavier has a 58 percent chance of upsetting Maryland, according to the ESPN College Basketball Power Index.

A game model projections have a predicted score of 72.8-67.1 in favor of Xavier.

No. 6 seeds have won 64 percent of the overall meetings against No. 11 seeds. That being said, No. 11 seeds have won seven of 12 NCAA Tournament games over the past three tournaments and are 15-13 since 2010. The game is essentially a pick 'em, which means our prediction is a Xavier win.

Click here to join CSN's 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge to have a chance to win Washington Wizards floor seats and other prizes. Presented by Chasen Boscolo.

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Maryland rolls to 96-43 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore

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Maryland rolls to 96-43 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Anthony Cowan had 16 points and nine rebounds, Jared Nickens scored 15 and Maryland opened its home schedule with a 96-43 rout of Maryland-Eastern Shore on Sunday night.

Cowan scored eight points in a 17-0 run that gave the Terrapins (2-0) a 43-15 lead late in the first half. The 6-foot sophomore had 12 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a block before halftime.

Nickens made all five of his shots, including four from beyond the arc. Dion Wiley finished with 14 points and freshman Darryl Morsell added 12.

Coming off a comfortable win over Stony Brook on Friday, Maryland yielded the game's first basket before Wiley drilled successive 3-pointers to spark a 12-0 run.

Maryland shot 70 percent (14 for 20) from the floor in the first half and forced nine turnovers, including four by freshman Cameron Bacote.

Bacote led UMES (1-1) with 18 points. He had 28 points and 11 rebounds in the Hawks' opener against Valley Forge.

BIG PICTURE

UMES: Games like this make money for the program and help the Hawks get ready for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference slate. The UMES schedule includes road games against Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Iowa State and Creighton before league play begins in 2018.

Maryland: The Terrapins put five players in double figures for the second game in a row. Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter are expected to be the go-to scorers this season, but they've not been needed thus far. Maryland will need that kind of balance when the competition gets tougher.

NOT A RIVALRY

The Terrapins are 18-0 against UMES in a series that began in 1979. This was the first game between the teams since 2015.

UP NEXT

UMES: Travels to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night.

Maryland: Hosts Butler on Wednesday night in the second of four straight home games.

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No. 21 Michigan dominates Maryland in 1st half in 35-10 win

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No. 21 Michigan dominates Maryland in 1st half in 35-10 win

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  -- Brandon Peters threw two touchdown passes, Chris Evans ran for two scores and No. 21 Michigan dominated Maryland in the first half in a 35-10 victory Saturday.

The Wolverines (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) have won three straight. The Terrapins (4-6, 2-5) have lost five of six.

Before the second quarter was halfway over, Michigan had a 28-0 lead thanks to Peters' passing and some madcap miscues by Maryland.

Peters threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Zach Gentry and 3 yards to Sean McKeon. Henry Poggi and Evans ran for scores. Evans, who scored from a yard out in the second quarter, added a 17-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

The Terrapins started their fourth quarterback of the season, Myles Brand, but unlike the previous three, couldn't come close to engineering a win. Brand was 16 for 35 for 136 yards.

In one particularly embarrassing sequence, Lorenzo Harrison badly overthrew Brand with lots of running room ahead of the quarterback, and three plays later, caught a pass from Brand and managed to lose 14 yards.

Trailing 14-0, Maryland tried a fake punt from its own 30. After Jaquille Veii gained just 3 yards and turned the ball over to Michigan, the Wolverines immediately scored on the 33-yard pass from Peters to Gentry.

After a 29-yard pass to Taivon Jacobs was overturned by replay, Michigan blocked Wade Lees' punt. Two plays later, Peters hit McKeon for a 3-yard pass, and the Wolverines' lead was 28-0 with 8:21 to play in the first half.

In the second half, Maryland scored on a 20-yard field goal by Henry Darmstadter and a 10-yard pass from Brand to Jacobs.