JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – John Calipari is prone to hyperbole. So, Rick Byrd could only laugh when he heard his friend named Belmont "the most dangerous team in the country."
Now, the Bruins will not even have the chance to become America's most popular
After sneaking into the first-ever NCAA Tournament win in school history, 11th-seeded Belmont missed his chance to become the next country's major mid-major darling after blowing a 12 -point lead and committing a costly turnover in the final seconds of his 79-77 loss to sixth-seeded Maryland at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
Maryland (23-10) and No. 3 LSU (27-6) will meet Saturday for a spot in the Sweet 1
Belmont (27-6), who surrendered a first half half-digit lead and then fought back from an eight-point deficit in the
Trailing by one, Byrd, in his 33rd year as Belmont coach, opted not to call the timeout, trusting the second-highest scoring offense in the second half, had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to pull the upset.
But before Cinderella could find the slipper, it tripped, with Grayson Murphy's freshman throwing away a backdoor pass. Maryland's Darryl Morsell was fouled with 2.5 seconds left, and missed his final free throw, but Dylan Windler's potential game-winning half-court heaved came well short
Maryland received double-doubles from the future NBA frontliners Bruno Fernando (14 points , 13 rebounds) and Jalen Smith (19 points, 12 rebounds), while Windler hit seven 3-pointers en route to a brilliant 35-point performance