Strong second half carries No. 9 Maryland over Rutgers

Strong second half carries No. 9 Maryland over Rutgers

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Jalen Smith had 14 points and 15 rebounds, Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 17 and No. 9 Maryland used a strong second half to beat Rutgers 56-51 Tuesday night for its fifth straight victory.

The Terrapins trailed 25-20 at halftime after shooting 24%. With Smith leading the way, Maryland (18-4, 8-3 Big Ten) emerged from the break with a 14-4 run and held off a late surge by the Scarlet Knights to improve to 13-0 at home.

Three free throws by Cowan put the Terrapins up 52-49 with 2:12 to go. Myles Johnson answered with a dunk, but the Scarlet Knights did not score again.

Smith, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, notched his fifth straight double-double and blocked six shots. He had a 3-pointer and a three-point play in succession to put the Terps ahead 34-29, and the margin swelled to eight points before Rutgers (16-7, 7-5) rallied.

Neither team shot well in a defensive struggle that featured several lengthy scoreless stretches by both teams. Akwasi Yeboah scored 13 for the Scarlet Knights, who shot 34% and went 3 for 17 from beyond the arc.

Rutgers is 0-8 against Maryland since both teams joined the Big Ten in 2014.

Maryland went 7 for 29 from the floor in the first half, made only two baskets over the final 12 minutes and fell behind at the break despite holding Rutgers without a point over the final 5 minutes.

Smith had eight points and five rebounds in the opening seven minutes to stake the Terrapins to a 14-6 lead. But Maryland missed 14 of its next 16 shots and went scoreless for more than 7 1/2 minutes while Rutgers went on a 19-4 run that included a trio of 3-pointers by Yeboah.

Cowan finally ended the drought with two free throws.


Rutgers: Thanks to a rugged, relentless defense, these are not the same Scarlet Knights who stumbled through one season after another in the Big Ten. Even in defeat, Rutgers showed it's worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Maryland, Michigan State and all the other contenders.

Maryland: It's never easy for the Terrapins, even at home. This narrow victory shouldn't harm their place in the Top 10, as long as they back it up with a strong performance at Illinois on Friday night.


Rutgers hosts Northwestern on Sunday night. The Wildcats lead the series 10-3 but Rutgers has won two of the last three.

Maryland's game at Illinois on Friday night is a rematch of a Dec. 7 contest won by the Terps 59-58.



The Ultimate Men's NCAA Tournament Bracket: Who is the best team of all-time? First Round

The Ultimate Men's NCAA Tournament Bracket: Who is the best team of all-time? First Round

A bracket to determine which NCAA Tournament team is the greatest ever is bound to have some upsets. There were three in the play-in round alone. 

The 2001-02 Maryland Terrapins unseated last year's champion Virginia Cavaliers in a landslide (77% to 23%). Upsets followed with 1990 Loyola Marymount and the 1967-68 Houston Cougars getting bounced before the field was narrowed down to 16. 



#20 Maryland Terrapins (2001-02) d. #13 Virginia Cavaliers (2019) 77%-23%
#19 Kentucky Wildcats (2010) d. #14 Loyola Marymount (1990) 57%-43%
#15 Georgetown Hoyas (1984-85) d. #18 North Carolina Tar Heels (2016-17) 75%-25%
#17 Kansas Jayhawks (2007-08) d. #16 Houston Cougars (1967-68) 53%-47%

Now that the Ultimate Men's NCAA Tournament Bracket had the field of 16, which teams will survive? 

The top four seeds in this tournament are in college basketball lore and will forever be on the short-list of best teams ever. But perhaps in biggest danger is the 1955-56 San Francisco Dons led by Bill Russell. Fan-favorite Maryland is primed for a Cinderella run that many pundits predicted could stretch far into this championship. 

Another darkhorse is the 1984-85 Georgetown Hoyas who won the popular vote in the play-in round. Up against the UNLV Running Rebels is no tall task and sometimes takes two turns on the court to knock them off. 

Will the Dons and Rebels make it through their first game of March Madness this go around? Will any other upsets happen? This round is sure to be hectic. Vote to find out.

Voting for the play-in will take place on NBCSWashington's Twitter on Wednesday, April 8 for 24 hours. The subsequent rounds will be on Friday, April 10; Monday, April 13 and the championship on Wednesday, April 15.

Teams will advance to the next round based on seeding. 


#1 UCLA Bruins (1967-69) vs. #17 Kansas Jayhawks (2007-08)
#8 Kentucky Wildcats (2012) vs. #9 UCLA Bruins (1964-65)

#4 San Francisco Dons (1955-56) vs. #20 Maryland Terrapins (2001-02)
#5 Villanova Wildcats (2018) vs. #12 Indiana Hoosiers (1975-76)

#3 UCLA Bruins (1972-73) vs. #19 Kentucky Wildcats (2010)
#6 Duke Blue Devils (1991-92)  vs. #11 Ohio State Buckeyes (1960-61)

#7 Houston Cougars (1982-84) vs. #10 Kentucky Wildcats (2015) 
#2 UNLV Running Rebels (1990-91) vs. #15 Georgetown Hoyas (1984-85)


#1 UCLA Bruins (1967-69) vs. #17 Kansas Jayhawks (2007-08)

1967-69 UCLA Bruins (88-2, 41-1 AAWU/ Pac-8 Combined) – 3x National Champions, AAWU Champion, 2x Pac-8 Champion

Top Players: Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Lucius Allen, Mike Warren
Head Coach: John Wooden
Wrap: There’s only one obstacle that prevented one of the best basketball players of all-time in Lew Alcindor from dominating college for four years: Freshmen could not play on the varsity team. There are several legendary John Wooden UCLA teams, but the three-year stretch with Alcindor was one of the best dynasties in sports. They have two of the seven-longest winning streaks in NCAA history by winning 47 and 41 games in a row. Not only did they win all the time, but they also blew out opponents en route to three NCAA Championships. In 1968, they won their last three games by a combined 76 points.

2007-08 Kansas Jayhawks (70–8, 27–5 Big 12 Combined) - National Champion, 2 Elite Eights, 2 Big 12 Tournament Championships, 2 Big12 Regular Season Championships

Top Players: Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush
Head Coach: Bill Self
Wrap: Kansas made history in 2008 by becoming the first team to ever win 37 games in a season. In the tournament, they rolled through some fan-favorites, including Steph Curry's Davidson team, Tyler Hansbrough's North Carolina team and Derrick Rose's Memphis team.

#8 Kentucky Wildcats (2012) vs. #9 UCLA Bruins (1964-65)

2012 Kentucky Wildcats (38-2, 16-0 SEC) – National Champions, SEC Regular Season Champion

Top Players: Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquise Teague
Head Coach: John Calipari
Wrap: The 2012 Wildcats had one of the most impressive modern runs through the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky controlled every contest throughout the Big Dance, including rolling past a who’s who of notable college coaches (Tom Crean, Scott Drew, Rick Pitino and Bill Self). Anthony Davis was the star of the team, but it was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that turned it on for a roster with seven future NBA players on it. 

1964-65 UCLA Bruins (58-2, 29-0 AAWU Combined) – 2x National Champions, 2x AAWU Champion

Top Players: Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson
Head Coach: John Wooden
Wrap: Before all the legendary John Wooden led UCLA Bruin teams, it had to start somewhere. In 1964, Wooden won his first championship in his 16th season as coach for UCLA. This was just prior to Kareem-Abdul Jabbar joining the Bruins, but the teams were just as dominant. They had just as many losses as they did championships in that two-year stretch.

#4 San Francisco Dons (1955-56) vs. #20 Maryland Terrapins (2001-02)

1955-56 San Francisco Dons (57-1, 26-0 CBA Combined) – 2x National Champions, 2x CBA Champion

Top Players: Bill Russell, K.C. Jones
Head Coach: Phil Woolpert
Wrap: In back-to-back seasons Celtics great Bill Russell led the Dons with a shot-blocking ability, 20+ points and 20+ rebounds to two national titles. At the time, there was no one in the college game that could stop his game. Due to Russell’s influence and dominant play in his sophomore season (1955), the NCAA widened the lane to prevent him from camping under the basket. Crazy to think that USF was the only school to recruit him.

2001-02 Maryland Terrapins (57-15, 25-7 ACC Combined) - National Championship, ACC Regular Season Champion, 2 Final Fours

Top Players: Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Steve Blake
Head Coach: Gary Williams
Wrap: The 2001 and 2002 Terps were easily the best two seasons in Maryland's history. In back-to-back seasons they made the Final Four, with the second resulting in a national championship. As the game and tournament have grown, that is not easy to do. Williams did it in two seasons with another talent-filled ACC. 

#5 Villanova Wildcats (2018) vs. #12 Indiana Hoosiers (1975-76)

2018 Villanova Wildcats (36-4, 14-4 Big East) - National Champions, Big East Tournament Champion

Top Players: Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall
Head Coach: Jay Wright
Wrap: Not many think of the 2018 Villanova team in the list of greatest champions because there was no memorable moment from their tournament. Their memorable moment was winning every game by double-figures and blowing past every opponent with ease in the NCAA Tournament.

1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers (63-1, 36-0 Big Ten Combined) – National Champion, 2x Elite Eight, 2x Big Ten Champion

Top Players: Scott May, Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner, Tom Abernethy
Head Coach: Bobby Knight
Wrap: The starting five from both the 1975 and 1976 Indiana teams are two of the few college basketball lineups to all play on in the NBA. In total, those two squads had eight NBA players and they rarely faced defeat. Not against the UCLA Bruins, not against the Soviet National Team, only once to Kentucky. Had it not been a Scott May injury near the end of the 1975 season, Indiana could very well have won back-to-back National Championships. Oh, and the 1975 season also was Mike Krzyzewski’s only season as an assistant in the sport.

#3 UCLA Bruins (1972-73) vs. #19 Kentucky Wildcats (2010)

1972-73 UCLA Bruins (60-0, 28-0 Pac-8 Combined) – 2x National Champion, 2x Pac-8 Champion

Top Players: Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes, Larry Farmer
Head Coach: John Wooden
Wrap: Coming off a national championship and a one-loss season, the Bruins graduated their entire starting lineup after 1971. In 1972, it was an entirely fresh roster, but they got it done and continued the program’s winning ways. Led by Bill Walton this UCLA team is regarded as one of the best, ever. In those two seasons, they contributed to 60 of their record 88 straight wins.

2010 Kentucky Wildcats (35-3, 14-2 SEC) - Elite Eight, SEC Regular Season Champion, SEC Tournament Champion

Top Players: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Peterson, Eric Bledsoe
Head Coach: John Calipari
Wrap: In John Calipari's first season with the Wildcats, he quickly returned Kentucky to a national powerhouse. With John Wall as the face of the team, Kentucky started off 19-0 and was a freight train of young talent. Eventually, they were upended by West Virginia in the Elite Eight, but there is no denying the star power on that team. 

#6 Duke Blue Devils (1991-92)  vs. #11 Ohio State Buckeyes (1960-61)

1991-92 Duke Blue Devils (66-9, 25-5 ACC Combined) – 2x National Champions, 2x ACC Regular Season Champion, ACC Tournament Champion

Top Players: Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill
Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski 
Wrap: Coach K’s legacy at Duke didn’t begin until the late 1980s, but year after year the championship alluded him and the Blue Devils. At the end of the 1990 season, Duke ended its season with a 30-point loss to UNLV in the championship. After losing three starters they re-tooled with a legendary 1-2-3 punch. Eventually, Duke became the first back-to-back champion in nearly 20 years and a new blue-blood was born. 

1960-61 Ohio State Buckeyes (52-4, 27-1 Big Ten Combined) – National Champions, 2x Final Four, 2x Big Ten Champions

Top Players: Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Bob Knight, Larry Sigfried
Head Coach: Fred Taylor 
Wrap: Ohio State would have three future Hall of Famers – one of which would turn to coaching in Bobby Knight – during their great 1960 and 1961 seasons. The Buckeyes changed the game with fast-break baskets and a never-before-seen offense with 90 points per game and no 3-point line. In the first year, they blew past every team in the tournament (closest victory was by 17 points). Next year they lost to cross-state rival Cincinnati in the championship.

#7 Houston Cougars (1982-84) vs. #10 Kentucky Wildcats (2015) 

1982-84 Houston Cougars (88-16, 42-6 SWC Combined) – 3x Final Four, 2x Southwest Regular Season Champ, 2x Southwest Tournament Champ

Top Players: Rob Williams, Michael Young, Clyde Drexler, Akeem Olajuwon
Head Coach: Guy Lewis 
Wrap: Phi Slama Jama changed the sport and introduced the game to the casual sports fan off the sheer athleticism of the seven players who were drafted into the NBA. Most remember their history based on their final two seasons with Drexler and Olajuwon running the show with their slam dunking and fast-break, frenetic, playground style. Although they never won the title, they were runner-ups twice and contrasted the dynasties of Wooden’s Bruins from the previous decade.

2015 Kentucky Wildcats (38-1, 18-0 SEC) – Final Four, SEC Regular Season Champions, SEC Tournament Champions

Top Players: Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Aaron Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein
Head Coach: John Calipari
Wrap: This version of the Kentucky Wildcats was two games short of joining an exclusive list of undefeated champions. Had they done so, it would have been the first since the 70s. Throughout the year, Kentucky made its season a cakewalk, leading many to believe they were not tested enough to win it all. Losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four proved them right. Nine of the 13 scholarship players have gone on to the NBA.

#2 UNLV Running Rebels (1990-91) vs. #15 Georgetown Hoyas (1984-85)

1990-91 UNLV Running Rebels (69-6, 34-2 Big West Combined) – National Champion, 2 Final Fours, 2x Big West Regular Season Champion, 2x Big West Tournament Champion

Top Players: Larry Johnson, Anderson Hunt, Stacey Augmon
Head Coach: Jerry Tarkanian 
Wrap: A 30-point victory over Duke in the championship game was the exclamation point on this stretch of UNLV basketball. From 1990 to 1991 they had a 45-game winning streak that remains the fourth-longest in the men’s game. The Running Rebels are also the last national champion from a non-major seven conference. 

1984-85 Georgetown Hoyas (69-6, 28-4 Big East Combined) - National Champion, 2 Final Fours, 2 Big East Tournament Championships, Big East Regular Season Champion

Top Players: Patrick Ewing, David Wingate, Michael Jackson, Reggie Williams
Head Coach: John Thompson II
Wrap: Georgetown was only eight points away from a perfect season in 1984. Four NBA stars made them one of the roughest, toughest and baddest teams in all of the country and Patrick Ewing was at the forefront with 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks a game. In the championship, they ended the Phi Slama Jama era of Houston basketball. The next season they made the championship game again.

March Madness Revisited: Richmond returns to the Sweet 16 in 2011

March Madness Revisited: Richmond returns to the Sweet 16 in 2011

The 2011 Richmond Spiders, a relatively unexperienced tournament team, were huddled up in the tunnel leading to the court at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Guys were chanting, players were taking their turn dancing in the circle as Richmond was set to warm-up for only the second Sweet Sixteen game in their school’s history.

Their opponent was the seasoned Kansas Jayhawks, who were the top-seeded team in the South Region and making their fourth Sweet Sixteen appearance in five years. 

As Spiders’ head coach Chris Mooney described to NBC Sports Washington: "For as giant as the place is, they have one tunnel to go in and out to the locker room.”

Kansas players wanted to scoot by to take the court and then some light shoving ensued. 

“It was just a pregame little scuffle, trash-talking,” Richmond’s Dairen Brothers told NBC Sports Washington. “We were already ready to come out and they were coming in behind us. Everybody is in the back jumping around, and the other team wants to come in and try and be tough.”

The skirmish didn’t translate to the game. Led by twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, the Jayhawks did what No. 1 seeds do and took care of business against the No. 12 seed Spiders. Kansas jumped out to an early advantage with some hot shooters and didn’t look back.  

“I’m sure if anything [the scuffle] probably helped Kansas, because they’re used to being in that situation, playing on that second weekend and maybe this was a little extra motivation to concentrate, but I think it was probably irrelevant,” Mooney said when asked if either team gained an edge from the altercation. 

You see, Richmond wasn't used to that situation. The Spiders aren’t a constant presence in the NCAA Tournament. The Spiders have only had their name called nine times on Selection Sunday in the past 40 years. 

But just because Richmond doesn’t get to wear their dancing shoes often, doesn’t mean that other programs aren’t familiar with their pedigree. Of those nine appearances, five of them had Richmond advancing past the first round. All five being upsets.

The Richmond program is one of the noted ‘giant-killers’ in March Madness. They made history in 1991 by becoming the first team to ever receive a No. 15 seed and advance to the second round. The Spiders have secured wins over No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 seeds while always being seeded in the bottom half of the bracket. Beating a No. 1 seed was the only upset left for the program to accomplish.

That year Richmond won their first, and to this day only, Atlantic 10 Tournament title. A late-season touch football game after a loss to Temple sparked a nine-game winning streak that would run into the NCAAs. 

“[Touch football] was just a way to exhale,” Mooney said describing the stress of being on the bubble. “When you’re on that bubble, especially for a team in the A-10 because you have so many opportunities in the ACC, if you lose a game it’s no big deal. Anyway, it was just a way to exhale, relax and say ‘Hey, let’s enjoy this.’”

On Selection Sunday they were able to enjoy it from Philadelphia's famed Chickie's and Pete's sports restaurant when knew their ticket was punched after balancing on the bubble all season. Vanderbilt was the fifth seed as their opponent and ripe for an upset. 

That season they weren’t just upset-minded. Richmond wanted to progress to a point of acceptance. 

“We were kind of more trying to say, look we’re not quite as much the giant killers as we’re on equal footing,” Mooney said. “We were trying to embrace who we were at that moment.”

That was evident with how they handled their 12 vs. 5 upset over the Commodores. Kevin Anderson, the team’s second-leading scorer, went off against the Vanderbilt zone in the second half. He scored 16 of his 25 points in the final 20 minutes of a 69-66 win. Postgame there was no gigantic celebration like the one elsewhere when No. 13 Morehead State upended No. 4 Louisville just before tip-off. There was simply a handshake line and the Spiders moved on. 

The win propelled Richmond to one of the rarest second-round matchups in college basketball: The No. 12 vs. No. 13 seed game. They had a chance at an elusive second win of the tournament for the first time since 1988. 

“We had that confidence. Once you win a game in the NCAA Tournament, it gives you a confidence boost,” Brothers said. “Everybody’s feeling good, your shots are going in, your conditioning level is up, you’re energetic.”

“The coaches met in my room to start watching tape of Morehead State and I can just remember midway through the second game thinking ‘You know, it’s really going to be hard for Morehead State to beat us,’” Mooney said. 

The Spiders handled the Kenneth Faired-led Eagles in what would be the final game of his collegiate career. A week later the team lost to Kansas, capping their run and matching the furthest the program has gone in March. 

Did that second victory prove the Spiders were on equal footing as the sport's very best teams? Probably not. Since then Richmond has been looking for an opportunity just to get back in the field. But had the tournament transpired this season, and not been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, there were good odds that the streak would have been broken.