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March 25, 2013TUSCALOOSA | Both the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Maryland Terrapins would rather have continued their seasons in a different location, but with a trip to New York going to the winner, tonight's NIT quarterfinal at Coleman Coliseum is not strictly for show.
The Crimson Tide, which could not quite make the NCAA field because of a tough December, and the Terrapins, who beat Duke twice this season but fell just short of a bid, will each try to make it in New York. For Alabama, it would be a second NIT semifinal trip in the years. For Maryland, which lost to Alabama by 20 points in Puerto Rico early in the 2011-12 season, it would be continued progress for coach Mark Turgeon's program.
What it very likely will not be is a 20-point game.
"They have a very deep and versatile roster and those are things we've talked to our guys about," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "They have the ability to go with five guards like they did against Denver, or go traditional with two bigs. They have good size and physicality. They have played a lot of different ways during the course of the year, so that's something that we have to be prepared for."
The Terrapins are led by sophomore guard/forward Dez Wells, who leads the team in scoring (13.2 points per game), is second in assists (3.0 per game) and field goal percentage (53.2) and is third in rebounding (4.9 per game) and steals (33). Seven-foot center Alex Len is second on the team in scoring (11.7), and leads Maryland in rebounding (7.7) and blocked shots (1.9).
"They mirror us in a lot of ways in terms of the way they press, having guys that play multiple positions, playing with a lot of effort," Grant said Monday. "I think they are one of the best defensive teams in their conference. From a versatility standpoint, they are a deep team with a lot of moveable parts."
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.