On Sunday afternoon the No. 23 ranked Maryland Terrapins and No. 11 ranked Wisconsin Badgers kicked off the day’s Big Ten play in what was an undeniable blockbuster battle between two of the conference’s elite.
As the first half fell underway, both teams quickly established their determination for a victory in this imperative matchup. The lead switched hands eight times in the first, as neither team was able to generate much breathing room.
However, Maryland (22-5, Big Ten 10-4) began to pull away in the final moments, entering the half up 33-27. In the second, Wisconsin (22-5, Big Ten 11-3) came out with some fire. The Badgers quickly erased the halftime deficit and continued to build off their momentum.
In the final minutes, it was clear that the game once expected to end in a nail biting finish, would instead be decided by a convincing lead. Wisconsin went onto defeat Maryland, 71-60, picking up its eleventh conference win of the season.
Let’s see what we learned from the game.
What We Learned
1. Melo Trimble Is Relentless
It seems that as Big Ten play comes to a conclusion, junior guard Melo Trimble has only enhanced his dominance on the hardwood. In spite of the loss, in the first half against Wisconsin, Trimble notched 15 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists on 5-of-8 shooting. As if his showing in the first wasn’t enough, Trimble furthered his efforts in the second. He capped off the afternoon with 27 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The former USBWA Freshman All-American was coming off a career-high 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting against Northwestern. Stepping up against elite opponents has been a theme for Trimble all season long and despite the loss, his individual efforts were noteworthy. As the the NCAA tournament approaches, Maryland will continue to rely on Trimble to lead the way into the postseason.
2. Maryland’s Rebounding Must Improve
Although Maryland will likely finish Big Ten play as a top team in the conference, If it expects to go deep in the NCAA tournament, its performance on the boards must improve. In the loss, Wisconsin out-rebounded Maryland 44-27, while Maryland’s starting big men, senior center Damonte Dodd and freshman forward Justin Jackson, combined for just seven rebounds on the afternoon.
Dodd, who stands at 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, will be expected to step up in the paint this postseason. Maryland is the seventh best rebounding defense in the Big Ten and is tenth best rebounding offense. If Dodd can crash the boards on both ends of the floor, a surplus of added scoring opportunities will follow.
3. Wisconsin Has Bounced Back
After picking up two consecutive losses against Northwestern and Michigan, a win against Maryland was exactly what Wisconsin needed. The win featured two standout performances from senior forward Nigel Hayes and redshirt-sophomore forward Ethan Happ. Hayes’ 21-point, 10-rebound double-double was followed by Happ’s 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
While the dynamic duo of Hayes and Happ has displayed sizable production all season long, Wisconsin’s bench also made an impact in Sunday’s victory. Redshirt freshman guard Brevin Pritzl added seven points and seven rebounds, as senior guard Bronson Koenig contributed nine points. Wisconsin’s collective effort in this win will provide the team with some confidence, as it finishes out its remaining regular season games.
Maryland and Wisconsin will both continue to be two top-tier teams in the Big Ten. As Wisconsin prepares for Ohio State, Maryland will look to get things back on track against Minnesota. Expect both teams to head into the postseason with some more wins under their belt.