Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket for ESPN got released on Monday and Maryland’s new first-round matchup could feature one of the best players in the country.
According to Lunardi’s bracket, the Terps are expected to be a No. 5 seed, and their No. 12 seed opponent will be Murray State, led by Ja Morant. Morant is fresh off dropping 36 points in the final of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament where he led Racers past Belmont, 77-65.
Morant has been by far the best playmaker in the country, leading the country with 10 assists per game while no one else in the country is even averaging eight per game. He’s had 18 games with at least 10 assists, with his season high being 18 dimes. Kenpom also has him at an assist rate of over 50 percent, the only player in the country who recorded an assist in over half of his possessions on the floor.
In addition to his playmaking abilities, Morant also scores quite regularly, averaging 24.6 points per game, good for eighth in the country. He shoots over 16 field goals per game, leading the Racers by nearly six shots per game.
Morant’s impressive stats have led to him being seen by many as a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft. CBS thinks he’ll be the No. 3 pick, as does Bleacher Report and SBNation.
A run in the Big Ten tournament could lift Maryland from an expected No. 5 seed into a No. 4 seed, but if that doesn’t happen, the Terps could find themselves facing a team with a player widely expected to be a lottery pick.