As a fan of Maryland basketball, having to wait five years between NCAA Tournament appearances was hard. Filling out a bracket in March and not being able to pencil in the Terps on that National Champion line, regardless of how unrealistic it might have been, took away a lot of the excitement of March Madness. Having to experience that same feeling of disappointment during four straight NCAA Tournaments was just torture. So when Maryland got back into the Big Dance, it felt good to once again be among the 68 teams vying for that national championship.
Even before the announcement that Maryland had officially returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, the Terps had already taken another step forward in Turgeon's overhaul of the program, finishing the regular season with a school-record 26 wins. But getting back to the Big Dance was always the goal and expectation for fans this season. It was the logical next step in Maryland's renaissance under head coach Mark Turgeon. But as the season progressed and Maryland showed they had the makings of what could be a special team, expectations began to shift away from just making the NCAA Tournament to how high Maryland's seed would be when the brackets were announced on Selection Sunday. As a result, despite all of the regular season success, had Maryland been unable to get out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament, many would have ultimately considered this season a disappointment.
So when that buzzer sounded Friday, after Varun Ram prevented Valpo from getting off what could have been a game-tying three pointer, I jumped off my couch, ran outside and began waving my Maryland flag around like a crazy person.
Damn right I went outside and waved my Maryland flag around. Been a long 5 years. pic.twitter.com/weSZdxmIcQ— Dave Tucker (@TestudoDave) March 20, 2015
On Sunday, the Terps have an opportunity to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 12 years. The last time they made it out of the opening weekend, Maryland was led by Steve Blake, Drew Nicholas and Tahj Holden. If Maryland can get by West Virginia today, they'll take another giant leap forward in what has been a season that has continuously exceeded expectations. Returning to the Sweet 16 would be another step towards the Maryland basketball glory days. And, for those fans like me who have Maryland winning their bracket, we couldn't be happier.