COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — March Madness is underway. In less than 24 hours, the University of Maryland men’s basketball team will play their first NCAA Tournament game in five years.
Sports Director Mark Viviano has more on the preparation the team is taking.
It’s a short flight to Columbus, Ohio, but it’s a long journey for the Terps, who’ve waited a long time to get back to the NCAA Tournament. It’s a place they believe they should always be.
Columbus, Ohio is Big Ten country. But Maryland’s not there to battle the Buckeyes, it’s a neutral site for the Terps first-round game against Valparaiso.
Maryland’s first season in the Big Ten was a smashing success–better than expected–lifting them into the NCAA Tournament and putting the Terps back on the national map.
“It’s a lot of excitement around the program. Everybody’s really excited to take this further, try to make a run. Everybody’s excited. This is the best time of the year and the best tournament of the year,” said Terps senior guard Dez Wells. “I’m just excited for my team to try to make a run.”
Making the run more fun for Maryland is how they got there. There were some tough times for Coach Mark Turgeon, as his teams failed to make the tournament his first four years on the job.
Patience has paid off.
“I think I’ve enjoyed this year more because of what I’ve gone through to get to this point,” Coach Turgeon said. “Luckily, I’m a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little bit grayer and I’ve learned to appreciate good teams. And this team’s been a lot of fun to coach. So it’s made up for a lot of the things that we went through to get to this point.”
Maryland will meet a Valparaiso team that Turgeon says reminds him a lot of his Terps team.