This season has largely been a successful one for Maryland up to this point. The team hasn't quite dominated as some fans were hoping before the season, but the team still raced through non-conference play and entered the postseason with a 24-7 overall record. By any general measure, that's a pretty good year.
But if Maryland wants to make this a great year, it will need to begin its run this weekend.
A few wins in the Big Ten Tournament won't make fans forget about the home loss to Wisconsin or the brutal loss to Minnesota, but it could set the team up for a major postseason run and undoubtedly, that would be enough to make fans forget those losses.
But can Maryland make a run in Indianapolis?
Let's take a look.
Thanks to the team's hot start the season, Maryland finds itself as the No. 3 seed in this year's Big Ten Tournament. This means that the Terps will avoid the first two rounds of the tournament and won't play until Friday. Not only is it a chance to avoid potential upsets on Wednesday and Thursday, but it also means that Maryland will be one of the most rested teams in the field. There's no debating that both of those are big benefits for the Terps in Indianapolis.
Of course, due to Maryland's seeding, who the Terps will face on Friday is still up in the air. Wisconsin is the most likely opponent, but the Badgers will need to make it through either Nebraska or Rutgers on Thursday first. Obviously, Wisconsin is going to be favored against either one of those teams, but the Cornhuskers are certainly capable of pulling off the upset. After all, Nebraska did beat Michigan State on the road earlier this year.
Nonetheless, assuming Wisconsin does advance, it should setup a really intriguing game on Friday. Maryland and Wisconsin split the regular season series and both games were really exciting matchups. Both teams have talent, depth, experience, and quality coaching. If this matchup occurs, look to see how Melo Trimble plays. He was underwhelming in the last matchup between the two teams and will look to play better this time.
If They Advance
If Maryland can take care of business on Friday, the Terps would then more into the semi-finals in a likely matchup against Michigan State. Despite being a No. 3 seed in the field, Maryland would be a significant underdog in this game. The Spartans have been red hot over the last few weeks and have won 10 of the team's last 11 games.
There's certainly a chance Michigan State drops to either Ohio State or Penn State on Thursday, but frankly, that's probably not going to happen. The Spartans went 4-0 against those two teams this season and all four wins came by at least 15 points. Given that, Ohio State or Penn State would need a pretty big upset to advance.
Assuming Maryland got Michigan State matchup on Saturday, the biggest spot to watch would be on the boards. During the lone meeting between the two teams earlier this season, the Spartans bullied Maryland inside and grabbed an impressive 17 offensive rebounds in route to a win. If the Terps want to come out on top, the team would need to control Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis down low, which isn't exactly an easy task.
If Maryland was able to win on Saturday, the team would then advance to the finals and would likely face Indiana, Iowa, or Purdue in a showdown for the Big Ten Tournament title. Given that the tournament is in Indianapolis, the Terps would certainly be rooting for a game against Iowa to minimize the potential for a road atmosphere. Obviously, all three would be difficult games, but Maryland is certainly capable of beating all three.
Maryland enters the Big Ten Tournament in a really interesting spot. The team probably won't be a significant favorite in any of its games in Indianapolis, but could really set itself up for a great postseason run if it can reel off a few wins. It's perfectly reasonable to see Maryland being knocked out by Wisconsin on Friday, or knocking off three wins and grabbing the Big Ten Tournament title.
This will be a wide open Big Ten Tournament for Maryland. It's going to be extremely difficult to get through a potential Michigan State matchup on Saturday, but if the Terps can play well and control the boards, it's not unreasonable at all to think Maryland hoists the conference crown at weekend's end. If so, maybe this Terps team can end up living up to the hype after all.