Junior guard Trevon Bluiett scored a game-high 21 points as the No. 11 seed Xavier Musketeers knocked off the No. 6 seed Maryland Terrapins, 76-65, in a first-round West Region matchup on March 16 in Orlando, Fla. 

Maryland forward Damonte Dodd (35) blocks a shot from Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett (5) during the first half of the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Maryland forward Damonte Dodd (35) blocks a shot from Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett (5) during the first half of the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

It marked the first time Maryland (24-9) has been eliminated in the opening round in 20 years. Meanwhile, Xavier (22-13) advanced to the Round of 32 to face the winner of No. 3 seed Florida State’s first round matchup against No. 14 seed Florida Gulf Coast. 

The Terps’ early exit from the tournament was shocking, considering they advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 in last year’s tournament. Teams with elite guards usually go the furthest in the NCAA Tournament, and with star guards such as junior Melo Trimble and freshman Anthony Cowan, Maryland was expected to make another deep run. 

But both Trimble and Cowan underperformed offensively, scoring a mere 17 points combined. Trimble made just 1-of-9 three-point attempts and was 5-of-15 from the field for 14 points, while Cowan finished with just four points and three turnovers. 

More importantly, Maryland’s guards couldn’t stop Xavier’s down the stretch, as Bluiett scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half. While Trimble couldn’t buy a three-pointer, Bluiett made it rain from the arc with five three-pointers. 

Xavier guard Malcolm Bernard (11) looks for an opening past Maryland guard Melo Trimble (2) during the first half of the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Xavier guard Malcolm Bernard (11) looks for an opening past Maryland guard Melo Trimble (2) during the first half of the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Junior forward Sean O’Mara also had a strong game for Xavier, scoring 18 points off the bench. 

Xavier will play its second round game on Saturday, March 18.

In other NCAA Tournament action:

West Region

  • No. 1 Gonzaga defeated No. 16 South Dakota, 66-46
  • No. 5 Notre Dame defeated No. 12 Princeton, 70-68
  • No. 8 Northwestern defeated No. 9 Vanderbilt, 68-66
  • No. 4 West Virginia defeated No. 13 Bucknell, 86-80

East Region

  • No. 1 Villanova defeated No. 16 St. Mary’s, 76-56
  • No. 5 Virginia defeated No. 12 UNC Wilmington, 76-71
  • No. 4 Florida defeated No. 13 East Tennessee State University, 80-65

Midwest Region

  • No. 4 Purdue defeated No. 13 Vermont, 80-70

South Region

  • No. 4 Butler defeated No. 13 Winthrop, 76-64
  • No. 12 Middle Tennessee upset No. 5 Minnesota, 81-72

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor