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NCAA Tournament 2017: Meet Xavier, Maryland’s 1st Round opponent

A look at the Terps’ first March Madness foe.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Xavier vs Butler Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland basketball went wild after learning it would be a No. 6 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament. The team was the second-to-last program called, learning it’d face No. 11 seed Xavier in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.

The Terps have to topple the Musketeers first, but should they win, they’d face the winner of Florida State-Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.

Besides Dez Wells, who transferred from Xavier and became a star at Maryland, these teams don’t have many connections. Let’s get to know the Musketeers:

Fun facts about Xavier

School size: 4,572 students located in Cincinnati, according to the school website.

Season record: 21-13 (9-9 Big East)

Mascot: Musketeers.

NCAA Tournament history: Xavier has been to the Dance 26 times, compiling a 24-26 overall record. They’ve never won a national title. The Musketeers have made the Elite Eight twice, in 2004 and 2008. They were a No. 2 seed in last season’s tournament but got bounced by Wisconsin in the Round of 32.

Former Xavier players you might remember: David West, who now plays for the Golden State Warriors, was a three-time Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and the 2003 AP and USBWA Player of the Year while at Xavier from 1999-2003. Jordan Crawford, the former Wizard currently averaging 16 points in three games since being picked up by the New Orleans Pelicans, transferred from Indiana following the 2008 season and averaged 20.5 points for the Musketeers in 2010.

Player to know: Trevon Bluiett, Edmond Sumner and J.P. Macura made up Xavier’s three Musketeers early in the season. Bluiett and Macura have had to shoulder an extra load since Sumner tore his ACL against St. John’s on Jan. 29. Bluiett is already on Melo Trimble’s radar, and he should be on yours too.

“Trevon Bluiett is a really good player,” Trimble told BTN on Selection Sunday. “I watched him a ton in high school, and even when he got to Xavier. He’s a really good player.”

The 6’6 junior guard/forward led the charge for the Musketeers this season, averaging 18 points and six rebounds per game. Bluiett has takeover ability and showcased it multiple times this season. He went for a career-high 40 points on 9-of-11 three point shooting against Cincinnati in January, albeit in a losing effort. Bluiett posted a stat line of 23 points, four rebounds, and four assists in Xavier’s 62-57 Big East Tournament quarterfinal win over Butler.

KenPom ranking: 40th, which is five spots higher than Maryland.

History with Maryland: Despite their long histories, these teams have only matched up twice. Maryland took both matchups, including a win in the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

Years as a Division I program: 96. In almost a century of Division I basketball, Xavier has no championship hardware to show for it. The Musketeers made the jump from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East four seasons ago, with their best league finish coming last year, when they finished second after going 14-4 in-conference and 28-6 overall.

The Terps will start their tourney quest with a 6:50 p.m. EST tip-off on Thursday, airing on TNT. Coach Mark Turgeon is happy to be dancing again.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that Xavier had never made past the Sweet Sixteen. The story has been updated to reflect the fact that they’ve been to the Elite Eight twice. Our bad. - LJ