Back in March 2016, the top five Billboard Hot 100 songs were “Work,” “Love Yourself,” “Stressed Out,” “My House,” and “Sorry.” Those are awfully fitting songs for the UConn men’s basketball the last five years. On Saturday at 7:10 p.m., the Huskies (11-6, 15-7) will take on the Maryland Terrapins (9-11, 16-13) in the first round of the NCAA tournament, bringing a five-year March Madness drought that’s felt like an eternity to a close.
UConn will be in action on Saturday. For a look at the full bracket and Friday’s schedule, SB Nation’s got you covered.
How to watch
When: Saturday, March 20, 7:10 p.m. ET
Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana
Radio: UConn Radio Network (97.9 ESPN and affiliates)
Line: UConn -3. over/under 130
KenPom Predicted Score: UConn 66, Maryland 64
The two teams last played in 2015, when Maryland handed UConn a 76-66 loss in the Jimmy V Classic. That same year, Dan Hurley and Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon had a terse exchange back when the Carpenter was building houses in Rhode Island.
How they got here
It’s been a long road back for UConn after getting manhandled by top-seed Kansas in the second round of the 2016 NCAA tournament. The Huskies are winners of five of their last six and just missed out on the Big East finals after falling to Creighton 59-56. Some in the national media see UConn as a dark horse Final Four candidate given they are 11-3 with James Bouknight in the lineup. They’re a balanced unit (No. 16 KenPom overall, top 25 in both offense and defense), but point guard R.J. Cole remains in concussion protocol and will need to be cleared in order to play. Thankfully, UConn has until Saturday to get their floor general back, and Cole participated in full-contact practice on Thursday, so things are looking up.
Maryland sits at No. 31 in KenPom and finished the regular season eighth in the loaded Big 10 before bowing out to Michigan in the conference tournament quarterfinals. The Terps managed to play 29 games this season, which is a rare feat given the COVID-19 pauses plaguing programs in 2020-21. They boast wins over Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan State, but have also dropped duds against Northwestern and Penn State (twice). They’re a tough, deliberate defensive team (No. 27 in defensive efficiency per KenPom) that relies on backcourt production to grind out wins.
If UConn wins, the Huskies will play the winner of 2-seed Alabama and 15-seed Iona in the second round. The Alabama-Iona game will be broadcast at 4 p.m. ET Saturday on TBS.
- Matchup Preview: UConn Huskies vs. Maryland Terrapins
- Best moments from UConn and Maryland’s all-time series
- The UConn Pod: 2021 NCAA Tournament Preview
- Huskies using new data analysis tool to gain upper hand on opponents
- Takeaways from Dan Hurley’s pre-tournament press conference
- UConn men’s basketball earns 7 seed in 2021 NCAA Tournament
- NCAA Tournament bid signals a breakthrough for the Dan Hurley era
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