After two nights of First Four games, the 2017 NCAA Tournament really gets rolling on Thursday. Upsets will happen and drama will ensue as teams try to make their way to the Final Four in Phoenix.
One of those teams is the Maryland Terrapins, who are participating in their third-straight Tourney. Mark Turgeon’s Turtles start the Dance on Thursday night against the Xavier Musketeers in Orlando.
Maryland struggled down the stretch losing six of ten games. Xavier, which started the season ranked #7 in the country, has lost seven of their last 10. A knee injury to point guard Edmond Sumner in late January helped start the Musketeers skid.
In Melo Trimble, the Terps have a player capable of taking over a game. Combine that with the fact that Xavier turns the ball over and Maryland should advance to the Round of 32.
I expect Florida State to be waiting for them in that round. The Seminoles are deep and athletic and like to play at a fast pace. Maryland has struggled in transition defense all season long. Unfortunately, I see the Terps bowing out here.
As for the Final Four, I’m picking Villanova in the East, Arizona in West, Kansas in Midwest and UCLA to come out of the South.
In the end, it will be Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats beating Kansas in the National Championship game and cutting down the nets.
After making the Elite Eight in 2015, Arizona got bounced by Wichita State ( watch out for them in the South, BTW) in the First Round in 2016.
The Wildcats will redeem themselves in a major way in 2017.
Enjoy the Big Dance.