In a season filled with lofty expectations, a late-season slide resulted in Maryland receiving the No. 5 seed in the South region of the 2016 NCAA tournament.
As high as No. 2 in the AP top 25 poll earlier this season before losing five of their last seven and falling to No. 18 in the rankings, the Terps will face the No. 12 seed South Dakota State in the first round in Spokane, Wash. on Friday. The Jackrabbits (26-7) won the Summit League for the third time in the last five years.
Friday’s game will tip at approximately 4:30 p.m. locally and will be televised on TBS.
The winner would advance to play either No.4 seed California or 13th-seed Hawaii on Sunday. The top overall seed Kansas is also in the South region and would potentially loom in the Sweet Sixteen.
Maryland had missed the NCAA tournament in four consecutive seasons before earning the No. 4 seed in the Midwest and advancing to the second round last year. However, expectations soared this year with the arrivals of freshman standout Diamond Stone and transfers Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon.
The Terps began the season 15-1, but their 10-7 finish entering the NCAA tournament hasn’t inspired confidence that they’ll realize the Final Four predictions that so many made a few months ago. Maryland fell 64-61 to Michigan State in Saturday’s Big Ten tournament semifinal after topping Nebraska in the quarterfinals on Friday night.
This was the fifth time in school history in which the Terps have won at least 24-regular season games, but they will be trying to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2003. Maryland has won at least one game in its last 11 NCAA tournament appearances dating back to 1998.
The program is making its 26th trip to the “Big Dance” and second under fifth-year head coach Mark Turgeon.