Maryland basketball will open its NCAA Tournament against Belmont on Thursday afternoon. The Bruins just defeated Temple 81-70 in a First Four matchup in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday night.
It was a back-and-forth contest, with the two No. 11 seeds trading runs with each other. Belmont closed the first period on a 20-9 run and took a 37-31 lead into halftime, then went up 11 early in the second half. Temple answered by scoring 10 straight and led by five points a few minutes later. But the Bruins followed with a 16-3 run, and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the final 9:48.
Senior guard Kevin McClain led the way with 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting (4-of-7 from three), while center Nick Muszynski added 16 points on an 8-of-12 clip. It was an impressive performance for the 6’11 freshman, who missed the Ohio Valley Conference championship game with an injury. It wasn’t a great scoring night for star 6’8 guard Dylan Windler—he went 2-of-7 for five points—but the senior will be a serious challenge for Maryland, as he averages 21.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest (he pulled down 14 Tuesday).
The Bruins are now 27-5 this season, and they’ve won 15 of their last 16 games, with the lone defeat coming to Murray State in the OVC title game. Belmont rode a high-powered offense to the league’s first at-large bid since 1987—the Bruins led the nation in assists per game (19.9) and are second in scoring (87.4 points per game) entering the dance, and they’re 20th in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Head coach Rick Byrd has 805 wins in college, but just picked up his first NCAA Tournament win.
Maryland, meanwhile, is 22-10 but has dropped three of its last four, including an embarrassing loss to Nebraska in last week’s Big Ten tournament. The Terps have only lost back-to-back games twice this season, and they’ll need to bounce back once again if they want to keep their season alive.
Tipoff is at approximately 3:10 p.m. ET on Thursday, or 30 minutes after the LSU-Yale game. Both contests will be televised on TruTV.