The No. 11 Xavier Musketeers (21-13) and the No.6 Maryland Terrapins (24-8) are bouncing into March Madness tonight for a West Region first round battle at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL. According to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index, Xavier is ranked No. 34 and Maryland is ranked No. 49. Both teams struggled towards the end of the season after starting out strong. The game is set to start at 6:50 p.m. ET.
The Xavier Musketeers
The No.11 seeded Musketeers only finished 7th in the Big East Standings. Xavier started the season winning 18 of their first 24 games. However, their season started to go downhill after they lost 73-57 to the Villanova Wildcats. This loss was the start of a six game losing streak. The Musketeers are coming off a big upset loss to the Creighton Bluejays in the Big East Tournament Semifinals. They lost 75-72 and were only a possession away from playing in the Big East Championship.
Head coach Chris Mack thinks the Musketeers learned a lot from their loss in New York, and that the team has continued to grow over the past couple of weeks. After losing sophomore Edmond Sumner in January due to a torn ACL, junior guard Trevon Bluiett has been leading the team with an average of 18.1 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. Junior J.P. Macura is also a player to watch in tonight’s game. He averages 14.5 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game.
The Maryland Terrapins
The No. 6 seeded Terrapins tied for second in the Big Ten Conference standings. They also started their season out strong winning 20 of their first 22 games. However, they have only won 4 out of their last 10 games. Maryland is hoping to bounce back tonight after a 72-64 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Musketeers need to look out for Melo Trimble in tonight’s game. He has led the team this season with an average of 17 points per game and this is his third consecutive year playing in the NCAA Tournament. According to ESPN Writer John Gasaway, Trimble is one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament. Other players to watch tonight for Maryland are freshman Anthony Cowan and freshman Justin Jackson who have an average of 10.5 and 10.4 points per game, respectively. Jackson is also the Terrapins’ rebounding leader with an average of 6.1 rebounds per game.
The winner of tonight’s game will advance to the next round to play either the No.3 Florida State Seminoles or the No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.