Terps open NCAA Tournament play against Crusaders

Mar 20, 2015 - 2:59 PM Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Midwest Regional second-round action concludes on Friday, with the fourth-seeded Maryland Terrapins taking on the 13th-seeded Valparaiso Crusaders at Nationwide Arena.

Mark Turgeon was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, as the Terrapins make their return to the NCAA Tournament following a four-year absence. Maryland certainly settled into its new conference this season, posting a 27-6 overall record, with a 14-4 league ledger. The Terps really played well down the stretch and into the Big Ten Tournament, but an eight-game win streak came to a close with a 62-58 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament's semifinal round. Maryland is taking part in its 24th NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins are 38-23 in this event all-time with a national championship in 2002.

Valparaiso is also coming off a strong season. The Crusaders enter the tournament with a 28-5 overall record and won their Horizon League regular- season crown with a 13-3 league mark, earning Bryce Drew Horizon League Coach of the Year. The Crusaders followed that up with a HL Tournament title and enter with wins in 10 of their last 11 games. Valpo is making its ninth appearance in this tournament, with a 2-8 overall mark.

The winner of this game will move into the third round and take on either Buffalo or West Virginia.

These two teams have met just one prior time, coming in the 1999 NCAA Tournament, an 82-60 first-round win for the Terrapins.

Valparaiso is a dangerous mid-major program that has had great success at both ends of the floor this season. The team is averaging 69.8 ppg on a healthy .459 shooting, while really dominating at the defensive end by limiting foes to just 59.3 ppg on .380 efficiency. In addition, the Crusaders enjoy a solid +7.2 rebounding margin.

Sophomore forward Alex Peters is the driving force for Valparaiso this season. After earning all-conference freshman honors a year ago, the 6-foot-9 Peters was named to the Horizon-League First-Team this season. He paces the Crusaders in both scoring (16.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg) and his .462 shooting from behind the arc (79-of-171) ranks among the nation's best. Junior Darien Walker (10.8 ppg) and freshman Tevonn Walker (10.2 ppg) provide adequate scoring depth.

Maryland will counter with its own young phenom in freshman guard Melo Trimble. The 6-3 playmaker earned All-Big Ten First-Team honors and currently leads the Terps in scoring (16.3 ppg), assists (102) and steals (41). Fellow guard Dez Wells (15.4 ppg) can fill up the basket as well and joins Trimble to give Maryland one of the most productive backcourt tandems in the nation. Junior forward Jake Layman is the team's top option in the frontcourt, averaging 12.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

The Terps have also found success at both ends of the floor this season. The team is averaging just under 70 points per game (69.5), while limiting the opposition to 63.2 ppg. Foes are shooting under 40 percent from the floor against Maryland (.396), including a mere .313 from behind the arc.

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