March meet UMBC's Jairus Lyles, Jairus Lyles meet March


March meet UMBC's Jairus Lyles, Jairus Lyles meet March

March is where you find out who the best college basketball players are in the entire country.

Jarius Lyles just introduced himself to the rest of the NCAA with his buzzer beater to send UMBC into the NCAA Tournament.

Not wanting his college career to end, the grad student sent the Retrievers to their second NCAA Tournament appearance ever. As the No. 2 in the America East conference tournament, they upset one overwhelming favorites in college basketball.


The No. 1 seed Vermont Catamounts dominated the A-East regular season with a 15-1 A-East record. They were a favorite to make the tournament and be a popular upset pick in the first round.

That will not be the case, because the UMBC Retrievers (24-10, 12-4 A-East) just stole that bid.

Lyles, a transfer from VCU, has averaged 19.9 points a contest and had four 30-point performances throughout the season. In the America East Championship he carried UMBC to the title. Scoring 27 points and making five three-pointers he was the only player to score double figures for the Retrievers.

This is the second time that the Retrievers has ever made the NCAA Tournament. They made the dance back in 2008 and lost to Georgetown in the first round.

Welcome back to March and welcome back to the NCAA Tournament UMBC.


Mark Turgeon still frustrated with officials as Maryland prepares for next test at Minnesota

Mark Turgeon still frustrated with officials as Maryland prepares for next test at Minnesota

Riding a nine-game winning streak, the Maryland Terrapins entered Sunday’s matchup at Ohio State off as strong a month as the program has had under Mark Turgeon.

They had to lose eventually, and Ohio State proved to have the right formula to slow down stars Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith. Behind their suffocating defense and lights out shooting night both beyond the arc and at the free throw line, the Buckeyes, held Maryland at bay just long enough to come away with a seven-point win over a top ten team.

No one on the Terrapins was making excuses after the game. They didn’t play well enough to win in the end, and their focus is fully on their next game, Wednesday night in Minnesota.

That didn’t stop head coach Mark Turgeon from making a point to call out the officiating Sunday.

Turgeon lost his most important, and experienced, player with just a few minutes left in the game thanks to a technical foul given out by the officiating crew after Anthony Cowan kicked his foot out in frustration after a no-call.

The Maryland head coach unsurprisingly came to the defense of Cowan, but didn’t directly complain about the officials in regards to the call.

What really stuck with Turgeon was the physical play the refs allowed Ohio State to get away with down low.

It’s very unlike Turgeon to so vocally complain about the officiating. Maryland has been on the receiving end of plenty of coaching complaints to league officials -- Melo Trimble’s foul rate dropping dramatically after his freshman year comes to mind -- but public comments rarely lead to anything positive.

The fact that he was so willing to voice his displeasure shows just how far Turgeon felt Kaleb Wesson and the Buckeyes were able to push the line.

It wasn’t just a reaction in the heat of the moment, either. Turgeon doubled down on his statements Tuesday as the team prepared for their Wednesday night game.

He admitted the likely futility of his comments, but Turgeon is still making a point to the officials here. The game needs to be called fairly, and referees are there to be the adults in the room. 

Turgeon is also likely looking ahead to the Big Ten Tournament with his comments. Right now, Maryland would be set up to potentially face Ohio State in their first game of the tournament, and Turgeon wants to get out ahead of the officiating in the rubber match.

With a two-game lead in the Big Ten and four games to play, the Minnesota game is an important one for Maryland. Like Ohio State, the Golden Gophers have a physical specimen in the paint of their own in Daniel Oturu.

If the officials allow Oturu to bully Jalen Smith in the post, coming across as one-sided as Turgeon felt they were in Columbus, Maryland’s head coach isn’t going to hold back again.

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Don't fret Terps fans, Maryland is still in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed

Don't fret Terps fans, Maryland is still in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed

Maryland missed a golden opportunity on Sunday to rise to the No. 1 seed conversation for the NCAA Tournament. But despite losing after being in a prime position, they still are the best team capable of earning the final top seed in March. 

Three of the then-projected No. 1 seeds by ESPN's Joe Lunardi lost on Saturday. Baylor lost to a fellow No. 1 seed Kansas, but Gonzaga and San Diego State both lost to teams outside of the AP Top 25. And in San Diego State's case, a team that isn't making the NCAA Tournament. 

It was a prime situation for Maryland to rise from the No. 2 line that they have been strapped to all season long. Alas, they fell on the road to Ohio State to pause the conversation for the time being - albeit in a loss that was not without some controversy

The loss, however, does not permanently remove the Terrapins from becoming a No. 1 seed. In fact, Maryland is in the driver's seat for the final No. 1 seed currently occupied by San Diego State. 

Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga are untouchable for Maryland unless one of those teams fall down the stretch. Kansas has 11 Quadrant 1 victories, Baylor is 10-1 in Q1 chances and 6-0 in those on the road and Gonzaga is 22-0 in non-Q1 chances. No one is passing one of those three based on that alone.

The final spot is open. SDSU, Maryland, Duke, Dayton and Florida State are the last remaining teams in consideration for the final No. 1 seed. A crowded field to say the least.

None of them have what Maryland has though: four Q1 opportunities left on their regular-season schedule. 

SDSU has none, Duke and Dayton have one, while Florida State has two after beating Louisville on Monday evening.

IF the committee regards Quadrant 1 wins as much as the NET rankings claim, then logic dictates that Maryland has the best opportunity to take that spot. Quadrant 1 games are defined as a home game against an opponent ranked 1-30 in the NET, a neutral site opponent from 1-50 or a road opponent from 1-75.

Before losing to Ohio State, Lunardi said that Maryland "would [ascend] to the No. 1 seed" with a win over the Buckeyes. That would slide the Aztecs to the No. 2 seed line. And losing to Ohio State is just another Q1 loss. Of all the losses from the top teams last week, including Duke's loss to NC State, Maryland's was the second-best in the eyes of metrics. They really shouldn't be hurt from that loss whatsoever. 

On top of those four regular-season games, the Terrapins would likely get at least two more Q1 chances in the Big Ten Tournament in the semifinals and the championship game, assuming they kept winning. But all of this hinges on continuing to win down the stretch. 

Maryland would have a better resume than any team that wins the ACC (Duke, Florida State or Louisville) and definitely better wins than either Dayton or San Diego State. 

The opportunity for a No. 1 seed is still there, now they can just focus on themselves. 

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