The widely followed U.S. men's national collegiate basketball tournament concludes Monday in Atlanta with a championship match-up between Maryland and Indiana.
Maryland is in the championship game for the first time in school history. To get here, the Maryland Terrapins had to beat three teams with great basketball traditions Kentucky, Connecticut and Kansas.
Now they face another, Indiana. While Maryland was one of the four top-seeds in this 65-team tournament, the Indiana Hoosiers were a fifth seed, and virtually no one expected them reach the title game. But they knocked off defending champion Duke in the third round, and in the semifinals they upset Oklahoma.
Maryland coach Gary Williams knows it will take a solid effort to win. "Any team that's gotten to where Indiana has gotten, you don't look at their record," he said. "You look at how they're playing now, how they play. Any time a team plays team defense like they do, they have a chance to beat anybody. That's what concerns me the most, their ability to play together as a unit, because a lot of times you can play with anybody when you play that close together like they do."
Indiana has 27 wins and 11 defeats this season. The last time a team won the national championship with as many as 11 losses was Kansas in 1988. Maryland has a school record 31 wins against only four losses. It has three seniors in the starting line-up who reached the semifinals last year, and they are determined that this time they will take home the school's first men's national basketball championship.