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Xavier-Maryland Preview

As team after team was announced during Sunday evening's NCAA Tournament selection show, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon could barely contain his anticipation.

A few hundred miles away, Xavier coach Chris Mack and his team were stressing through several exasperating minutes just the same because a late-season skid chipped away at their chance of earning a bid.

In a fitting showdown between two teams that are ready to hit the reset button after stumbling late in the season and sweating through the selection show, the No. 6 seed Terrapins will take on the No. 11 seed Musketeers in a West Region first-round game Thursday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

"The West (Region) comes up and all those teams start showing up, and I got a little nervous because you're not guaranteed anything, especially when you're not a high seed," Mack said.

"My heart was coming through my sweater," Turgeon said. "We had quite the celebration in my basement when our name popped up. I didn't even know we were playing Xavier until probably a minute because we were going crazy."

The Terrapins (24-8) undoubtedly are aware of the Musketeers (21-13) Big East by now and will be prepared for a matchup that immediately began drawing attention as a possible upset opportunity.

The winner of Thursday's game will face either Florida State or Florida Gulf Coast.Led by junior guard Melo Trimble, who averages 17 points per game, Maryland played like one of the elite teams in the country for more than two months of the season before going into a tailspin. The Terrapins won 20 of their first 22 games before dropping six of their last 10, including three straight at one point.

After a 72-64 loss to Northwestern in the Big Ten quarterfinals Friday, Turgeon couldn't contain his frustration any longer and let his team feel his displeasure.

"I don't usually get on my guys right after a game, but I was upset Friday night," Turgeon said. "I let them know it."

The Musketeers have also dealt with adversity since losing sophomore guard Edmond Sumner to a torn ACL while playing against St. John's on Jan. 29.

Xavier was 18-6 after beating DePaul on Feb. 8. It then dropped six straight games to close out February and begin March and likely needed wins over DePaul and Butler in the Big East conference tournament just to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.

Without Sumner, the Musketeers have asked more of junior guards Trevon Bluiett, who leads the team in scoring at 18.1 points per game, and J.P. Macura, who adds 14.5 points per game.

Trimble, who was a player of the year candidate when his team was rolling most of the season, is the main star for Maryland. The Terrapins have also gotten steady contributions from freshmen Anthony Cowan (10.5 points per game) and Justin Jackson (10.4).

"I'm going to view this as a great thing," Turgeon said of his team's youth. "When they never played a home game, they were great. When they never played on the road, they were great."

Updated March 13, 2017

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