Three Thoughts on Maryland’s 67-65 Win Over West Virginia in First Round of NCAA Tournament
In a back-and-forth battle, the Maryland Terrapins outlasted West Virginia to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 67-65 victory.
In a game that had all the feelings of March Madness, a missed buzzer-beater from West Virginia sent the eighth-seed Terps forward, and the ninth-seed Mountaineers home.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what transpired in Birmingham, Alabama.
The 8-9 Match Up Lives Up to the Hype
The No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed games are usually some of the best of the NCAA Tournament. And that’s exactly what we got on Thursday in the opener. The Mountaineers and Terrapins traded blows in a back-and-forth battle that felt every bit of a March Madness match up. Over the course of 40 minutes, we saw eight ties, 12 lead changes on the way to a Maryland victory in the end. The Terps fought off numerous runs from the Mountaineers and had just enough in the second half to come out on top. These two teams have played blue-collar, hardnosed basketball all season, and it all came down to the wire with Maryland doing just enough to advance.
This Was a True Game of Runs
Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers came out of the gate on fire in the opening half of the NCAA Tournament’s first game. After just a few minutes into the game West Virginia took a commanding lead on the shoulders of a 14-0 run to make it 16-4. It took a couple of timeouts to get going, but Maryland then went on a 16-2 run to make it 22-21 Terps. From there, the scoring was pretty back and forth until half time, with Maryland taking a 32-30 lead into the half. After the break, Maryland scored six of the first seven points, making it 38-31. West Virginia then went on the biggest run of the game, scoring 16 unanswered points, including 10 straight points from Kedrian Johnson, to give WVU a 47-38 lead. The difference in the game ended up being a 9-0 rus late in the second half though, as Maryland took a 52-51 lead and hung on in the end.
Kedrian Johnson’s Big Game Not Enough for WVU
When the Mountaineers needed a big shot on Thursday morning, the ball was in Kedrian Johnson’s hand, not Erik Stevenson like usual. Johnson stepped up, and delivered a 27-point performance on 8-13 from the field (61.5%) and going perfect from the free throw line (7-7). During the second half, West Virginia went on a 16-0 run, with 13 points coming from Johnson, including 10 straight points on three consecutive and-one plays. Unfortunatelty for Johnson and the Mountaineers it just wasn’t enough. West Virginia had the final shot of the game, a running three-point attempt from Johnson that came up just short. That’s just how it goes in March.
Maryland will play Alabama on Saturday.