Yes, I know it’s the first week of December.
That being said, it’s never too early to start thinking about March.
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his latest NCAA tournament projection on Tuesday, and he’s currently predicting Maryland’s return to the NCAA tournament.
Lunardi has Maryland slotted as a No. 7 seed in the South Region, facing No. 10 seed Butler in the first round in Jacksonville. He has Auburn as the No. 2 seed that would most likely be awaiting Maryland in the second round, while Maryland could also have a hypothetical rematch with the region’s No. 1 seed, Virginia.
Maryland was also a No. 7 seed in Lunardi’s Nov. 29 bracket, just one day after the team’s only loss of the season to Virginia. In his preseason bracket on Nov. 2, the Terps were listed as a No. 8 seed.
The Terrapins notably failed to make the NCAA tournament last year. They were a No. 6 seed the last time they made it to the big dance in 2017, but lost to No. 11 Xavier in the first round. Maryland’s last NCAA tournament victory came over Hawaii in the round of 32 in 2016 when the Terps were a No. 4 seed.
According to Lunardi’s bracket, three of Maryland’s out-of-conference foes are also current tournament teams. Virginia is No. 1 seed, Loyola-Chicago is a No. 12 seed and Radford is a No. 16 seed.
From the Big Ten, Lunardi currently has 10 teams making it into the field of 68, which would be the most from any conference. He projects that Michigan (No. 2 seed), Michigan State (No. 2 seed), Wisconsin (No. 4 seed), Ohio State (No. 5 seed), Purdue (No. 5 seed), Nebraska (No. 6 seed), Indiana (No. 6 seed), Maryland (No. 7 seed), Iowa (No. 7 seed), and Minnesota (No. 11 seed) would all have a spot if the season ended today.
Lunardi also has Northwestern and Penn State in the mix, having both schools as a part of his “Next Four Out”. That puts 12 of the 14 Big Ten schools (sorry Rutgers and Illinois) in serious contention this season, which should make things fun come January.
The Terps will have a chance to boost that NCAA tournament resume this week as they take on back-to-back opponents in Lunardi’s field. Mark Turgeon’s team travel’s to West Lafayette to take on Purdue on Thursday before hosting Loyola-Chicago at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena on Saturday.