And there it is: the upset everyone saw coming. Maryland came into the game with a good defense, albeit one that hadn’t produced at a high level for quite some time — leading to a 2-4 record over the last six games — and that suspect play ultimately cost them against a sharp-shooting Xavier squad.
The Musketeers hit nine 3-pointers, shot 50-percent from the field and trumped the Terrapins 76-65 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, likely busting a lot of brackets along the way. (Hopefully not too badly.)
Maryland entered the contest as a slight favorite, but many expected a close match due to Xavier’s scrappy style of play and ability to light it up on offense at any given time. Turns out, the team’s defense isn’t too bad, either.
The Musketeers held Maryland star Melo Trimple to just 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting, including 1-of-9 from downtown, and outscored their opponents 41-29 in the second half.
Trevo Bluiett went 5-of-10 from downtown and finished with a game-high 21 points, while Sean O’Mara chipped in 18 points off the bench, including eight free throws; and also picked up seven rebounds.
The Terrapins failed to make a field goal during a lengthy five-minute stretch in the second half, but still managed to pull within single digits when Kevin Huerter hit a trey at the six-minute mark.
But the 11-seed Musketeers countered every Terrapin run and held the struggling 6-seed at arm’s length over the final minutes to pull off the upset.
The Musketeers have reached the Round of 32 16 times, the Sweet 16 seven times and the Elite Eight twice, in 2004 and 2008. Last season they lost to Wisconsin in the second round after dropping Weber State in the first.