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Turgeon describes an emotional selection show viewing for the Terrapins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The road to the 2021 NCAA Tournament was uphill for Mark Turgeon's Terrapins this year. While it was expected Maryland would be included in the 68-team field, this Selection Sunday carried a little more weight than previous years.
On Monday, Turgeon joined BMitch and Finlay on 106.7 The Fan, and described a suspenseful and ultimately emotional moment for his group. After dealing with two unusual seasons and battling through a particularly strong pool of Big Ten competition this year, they were one of the final teams to hear their name called on Sunday.
"We knew we were in, just because everything that was predicted in all of the brackets and all the things were kind of what you saw," Turgeon said. "But it's still great to see your name pop up."
Turgeon has led the Terps to five of the past six NCAA tournaments. That doesn't include last year's team which earned a share of the Big Ten regular-season title was projected to be a No. 3 seed in the tournament before the postseason was canceled due to the pandemic.
Last year's seniors, Turgeon explained, were left only with the thought of what could have been. But for the returning players who missed out on a shot at a national title, the likelihood of getting back likely seemed dim at the beginning of the season.
"From 4-9 to the NCAA Tournament, playing in a great league and beating Michigan State twice late in the year and just doing a lot of really great things. There were some tears actually in some of my guys' eyes, especially some of the veterans that it was taken away from last year."
As the No. 10 seed, Maryland will tip-off Saturday against No. 7 Connecticut. Preparation in Indianapolis will begin on Tuesday once the team is cleared from COVID protocols. But if you ask Turgeon, this year more than any other has prepared this group for the upcoming challenges they'll face, not just in this tournament, but in the rest of their lives.
"This year is going to help my guys be more successful in life than any year I've been around a team because of all the things they had to go through," Turgeon said. "It's been a grind, there’s no doubt about it, but I'm really proud of our group that we’ve made it to this point and got a chance to be one of the 68. And we’re playing our best basketball. We’re playing better, we’re defending better and our offense is getting better so we’re a confident team heading into the NCAA tournament."