Maryland, Mark Turgeon Preparing For "Fifth No. 1 Seed" Alabama

On Monday night, Alabama will face a tough Maryland squad that is similar to the Crimson Tide in a lot of ways
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INDIANAPOLIS — Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon doesn't consider Alabama a No. 2 seed. 

"I consider them to be the fifth No. 1 seed," Turgeon told the media on Sunday. "Any team that can win their regular season championship and tournament championship is a special team. They are special team and it is going to take an unbelievable effort to beat them."

The Crimson Tide, who got past Iona 68-55 in the Round of 64 on Saturday, and Terrapins are set to tip-off inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday night (7:45 p.m, TNT) for a trip to go to the Sweet  16. 

It has been 17 years since Alabama has gone that far in the Big Dance and it won't be easy against No. 10 Maryland (17-13, 9-11 Big Ten), who upset UConn 63-54 over the weekend. 

On offense, the Terrapins are led by junior guard Eric Ayala, who averages 15.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals. Joining him in the backcourt is junior Aaron Wiggins, who is the second-leading scoring on the team at 14.1 points. 

Both Ayala and Wiggins combined for seven of Maryland's nine three-pointers in that win over the Huskies. Overall, the Terrapins shot 51.1 percent from the floor (22-of-43) and 50 percent from three-point range (9-of-18) in the first round.

Per KenPom, Maryland is 41st in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency and 57th in effective field goal percentage. 

However, defense is where the Terrapins hang their hat, which is similar to the Crimson Tide.

The Big Ten Conference got a record nine teams into the NCAA tournament and the No. 1 team in scoring defense in that league was Turgeon's group. Maryland only allows 64.6 points per game. 

They are also second in the Big Ten in field goal defense at 40.6 percent and 25th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Senior guard Darryl Morsell was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year after a campaign that saw him average 8.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and nearly one block and one steal. 

"They play really hard and they have the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year," Alabama senior forward Alex Reese said. "They are real sound defensively and switch on a lot of ball screens. Switch on a lot of screens in general. We have to come out and execute our game plan. We've already watched some film and we just need to lock in."

Where the Crimson Tide can exploit the Terrapins is from beyond-the-arc. 

As good as Maryland's defense is, it's just as bad at defending the three-point line as it ranks 190th in the country in that metic, allowing opponents to convert at a clip of 33.9 percent. 

Alabama, who shoots more triples than anyone in the country, wasn't anywhere close to its best offensively against the Gaels only scoring 68 points and attempting a season-low 16 three-pointers. Its five makes were the second-fewest all year. 

"Our offense wasn't good so hopefully that was just getting first-game jitters out of the way," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. "Hopefully we can settle in and play a lot better against Maryland. They are a very tough team. Very physical. They play in the Big Ten so they are use to playing in a tough league. We are going to have to rebound the ball well. We are going to have to guard well. 

"Again, we are going to have to be better offensively than we were in the last game. I think our guys will be ready. Coaches were up late Saturday night. We put the scout in. Had a good practice. I thought the guys were very locked into the scouting report."