The Terps have played themselves into an opportunity to finish at .500 in the Big Ten. Maryland can also pick up a much needed ‘signature win’ while riding a five game win streak into the Big Ten tournament. The final test won’t be an easy home win however, as the 17th ranked Michigan Wolverines travel to College Park.
Michigan is currently on a four game win streak themselves, picking up wins over #16 Ohio State and Iowa, and road wins against Wisconsin and Penn State. The Wolverines are hot at the moment, but the Terps rarely lose inside the XFINITY Center. This season, Maryland is 15-2 at home, only losing to Purdue and Michigan State. This has a chance to be one of the best and most competitive games in all of college basketball this year. Michigan is fighting for a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament, whereas the Terrapins are knocking on the door to reach the Big Dance.
The Terps took the Wolverines down to the wire back on January 15th, but lost 68-67 in Ann Arbor. Maryland stomed back in that game and took a one point lead on a Kevin Huerter three. The Terps then fouled Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman with under a second remaining, and lost by a free throw on the final possession. In fact, the last four meetings between the two teams have been decided by four points or less.
Michigan is led by a trio of upperclassmen, juniors Moritz Wagner and Charles Matthews, and senior Abdur-Rahkman. All three have been Maryland killers in their careers, so everyone knows what to expect from them. One of the keys for the Terrapins to win is to shut down Michigan’s role players. Lights out shooter Duncan Robinson to be specific.
Bruno Fernando has turned into a monster as of late and Mark Turgeon has used him to pace the offense over this hot stretch. Huerter and Anthony Cowan Jr. have been the go-to guys all season, and with this run being Maryland’s last shot at a Tournament opportunity, that shouldn’t change much. Dion Wiley has been excellent over the last five games, ever since Turgeon met with Wiley and challenged him to become more of a threat. He has responded in a big way.
The most impressive part about this Maryland team is what they are doing as of right now. Instead of laying down and dying, the Terps are giving the selection committee something to think about when finalizing their picks. Obviously they still have some work to do, starting with tomorrow’s game. Maryland will likely play Wisconsin in their first matchup in the Big Ten tourney. The winner of that game will take on the number one overall seed.
Maryland has proven that they can stand tough against the best teams in the Big Ten. The Terps just need to take it one game at a time and play at the high competitive level that they have shown they can play at this season.
Maryland and #17 Michigan tomorrow on ESPN. Tip is for 12pm.