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If Maryland wins, they'll play a team that no one expected to be here in No. 3 LSU

If Maryland wins, they'll play a team that no one expected to be here in No. 3 LSU

If the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins happen to make it past No. 11 Belmont in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, they'll have an opponent that not manny people expected to make the Second Round.

No. 3 seed LSU Tigers powered past No. 14 Yale 79-74 to earn a spot in the next round.

The Tigers won this game despite turmoil hitting their program at the end of the season. The program is without their head coach Will Wade. In wake of an FBI wiretap, the school suspended him indefinitely. 

That wiretap recored Wade using phrases like “rookie minimum” and "strong-a** deal" to suggest the payment of his players. Freshman Javonte Smart appears to be the player Wade was referring to in this context, according to The Advocate.

Smart missed some time, but eventually came back. Wade, meanwhile, will likely not coach the team at all in the NCAA Tournament. 

For these reasons, LSU was a popular First Round upset pick with the Ivy League's Yale Bulldogs being the victors. 

That did not come to pass and now the Tigers face the winners of Maryland-Belmont. The Tigers are tall, athletic and have four different players that are capable of scoring at a high rate.

A tough draw for the Terps if they find a way to advance.

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March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 6 Maryland

March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 6 Maryland

The Maryland Terrapins rode behind a stellar duo in the paint and a talented point guard to guide them through the Big Ten. As a result, the Terps are in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons. 

From the onset of the year, the Terps had high expectations to perform with  potential lottery pick Bruno Fernando returning after his phenomenal freshman campaign. Some expectations were so high that many considered head coach Mark Turgeon's job to be on the hot seat if the team did not deliver. 

Fortunately for him and the program, it worked out. Not only did the Terps start the season strong, but they also won eight of their first nine Big Ten contests. 

The Terps were in line for their first double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament up until the final two weeks of the season. An inexplicable loss to a 14-win Penn State is what ultimately did them in. 

But, they've been successful this season, with multiple wins over ranked opponents, because they are an instant mismatch. Not many teams can match-up with 6-10 Fernando and 6-10 Jalen Smith at the same time. Both of them also have the option to kick it out to Eric Ayala (42 percent from three) and Aaron Wiggins (41 percent from three).

Needless to say the Terps are an inside-out type of team, but their Achilles heel is that they are young. Their starting lineup consists of a junior in Anthony Cowan Jr., two sophomores (Fernando and Ayala) and two freshmen (Smith and Andrew Wiggins). The next three on the depth chart? Three freshmen. 

In losses, they've turned over the ball at a horrible rate. On the year they average 13 turnovers a contest. 

Maryland has the talent to make a run and easily make it to the Sweet 16 in their own backyard with the East semifinals at Capital One Arena. They also only have one player in their rotation that has been here before.

We'll see how Maryland does on Thursday at 3:10 p.m. on TruTV when they play Belmont.

Maryland Terrapins 2018-19 Record: 

22-10 (13-7 Big Ten)

Maryland Terrapins 2019 NCAA Tournament Seed:

No. 6, East (At-large bid)

Maryland Terrapins First Round Opponent:

No. 11 Belmont

The Path to the Final Four:

No. 11 Belmont, No. 3 LSU, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 1 Duke

Top Players:

Anthony Cowan Jr. (16.0 ppg, 4.3 apg - Big Ten Second Team)
Bruno Fernando (13.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg - Big Ten First, Defensive Teams)
Jalen Smith (11.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg - Big Ten Freshman Team)

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Wizards analysts Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos for a chance at great prizes.

Grand Prize: if you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win a 3-night trip for four people to Universal Resort, including round trip airfare, lodging, admission to Universal Studios and tickets to Blue Man Group.

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a coupon code for a free Jersey Mike's sub!

March Madness 2019: Five upset picks to make in the opening weekend

March Madness 2019: Five upset picks to make in the opening weekend

First and Second Round upsets are what make March Madness so great.

Seeing some team that no one expected to win knock off a Power 5 team is why everyone loves this time of year. In some ways it’s the iconic David vs. Goliath.

Picking these upsets is a different conversation though. Everyone wants to be the expert that gets to say “I saw this upset coming.” They are hard to predict, another reason why we love it.

While picking First and Second Round upsets will not win you your bracket pool/ challenge, it can make a difference when the final votes are tallied.

These are some upsets that have a strong likelihood of coming to fruition during the first week of the NCAA Tournament.

First Round Upsets

No. 13 Saint Louis over No. 4 Virginia Tech

From afar this upset pick makes zero sense. Virginia Tech, who hails from the best conference in the country, has one of the most potent offenses that can catch fire at any moment. This was already on display in their upset victory over Duke back in February. Saint Louis is only in because they were left standing in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

But this is also a Hokie offense that can stutter (47 points in a WIN over NC State) and has Justin Robinson coming off an injury. Even without those obstacles, when they played a hard pressured defense this season it did not end well.

Enter Saint Louis.

They rode their defense through the A10 Tournament. A variety of defensive schemes, mainly a 1-3-1 zone, had them knock off Dayton, Davidson and St. Bonaventure to get to the big dance.

They will force the Hokies to shoot from 3pt range. And with the Hokies’ hot-and-cold offense they are bound to have an off game.

No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Maryland

As many Terrapins’ fans know this is a team that is capable of making a run to the Sweet 16 or beyond OR they will lose painfully in the First Round.

The latter is their future if Belmont is their opponent.

As the second highest scoring team in the country they average 87.4 points per game. Not only do they have a formidable challenger to Bruno Fernando/ Jason Smith in Dylan Windler, but they have reinforcements. Two other players average over 14 points a contest in both the backcourt and the paint.

Belmont is good and likely would be a better seed if they had a schedule comparable to Power 5 teams.

Only twice has Maryland scored more than Belmont’s averages this season. They were against Loyola (MD) and Mount St. Mary’s back in December and November.

No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Wisconsin

The Ducks have won eight consecutive games (albeit to Pac-12 opponents) to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Less than a handful of teams can say that much.

Early in the season the Ducks were a preseason favorite with 7-foot-2 Bol Bol on their roster. An injury in mid-December derailed their season until a late push stole them a bid.

Instantly they are a mismatch with four players standing at 6-9 in the starting lineup. While Wisconsin has Ethan Happ and Nate Reuvers, they will have their hands full in the paint. Their depth behind that is a big concern. 

Oregon is a dangerous and unpredictable team that no one wants to face.

No. 12 Murray State over No. 5 Marquette

Both of these teams are essentially one man wrecking bands with Ja Morant on Murray State and Markus Howard on Marquette.

But only one of them is fully healthy.

Howard recently aggravated a left wrist injury from earlier in the season. In Marquette’s last game in the Big East Tournament he shot 1-for-15 in a loss to Seton Hall.

If Howard cannot play at 100 percent, somebody on the Golden Eagles will have to match NBA Draft prospect Morant on the Racers.

Second Round

No. 6 Iowa State over No. 3 Houston

Hard to get too ahead of the games, but assuming Iowa State and Houston make it to the Second Round, the Cyclones have a great chance at an upset.

Both of these teams have recent appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Both have a veteran presence on their squad. But one school went through the powerhouse that is the Big 12 and the other went through to the AAC.

The Cyclones last three games were in route to the Big 12 title, over Baylor, Kansas State and Kansas. Houston’s was UConn, Memphis and a loss to Cincinnati; a big difference.

If Iowa State’s trio of talented guards can break through the Cougars’ defense, watch out.

MORE NCAA TOURNAMENT NEWS:

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Wizards analysts Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos for a chance at great prizes.

Grand Prize: if you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win a 3-night trip for four people to Universal Resort, including round trip airfare, lodging, admission to Universal Studios and tickets to Blue Man Group.

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a coupon code for a free Jersey Mike's sub!