The question, “how good is Maryland?” has lingered over the Terrapins all season long.
We should have a better idea at the end of January.
Maryland has put itself in decent position towards an NCAA Tournament bid at 14-4 (3-2) so far, but the schedule is about to heat up. How they do over the next couple weeks could determine what side of the bubble they will lie on selection Sunday.
Let’s take a look at Maryland’s tough stretch of games.
-January 11th: @Ohio State
The Terps travel to Columbus to play possibly the hottest team in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes took down no. 1 Michigan State on Sunday, and now turn their attention to an important match up with Maryland over potential top 4 seeding in the Big Ten Tournament.
It will be interesting to see how Ohio State looks in this one. Could a letdown be in order after such an emotional win? Can Keita Bates-Diop continue his Big Ten Player of the Year type play?
Outside of these questions, this could be an intriguing match up for Maryland. Anthony Cowan should have a big game against a weaker Ohio State point guard position, and the Terrapin front line needs to make itself more of a presence than Michigan State did. Bruno Fernando has been playing well over his last few games, and will need a big game here as well.
Still, it is a game on the road, so a win will be hard to come by.
-January 15th: @Michigan
The Terps continue their road trip and head to Ann Arbor next Monday.
The Wolverines have been almost as hot as the Buckeyes, but have a tough week this week with a home game against Purdue and a road game against Michigan State.
I think this match up could be more difficult for the Terps. Mo Wagner will challenge Maryland’s defense with his three-point shooting capabilities, and Jordan Matthews has quietly put together one of the Big Ten’s nicest seasons, pacing the Wolverines in scoring.
-January 18th: Minnesota
Given the home and away dynamics of this six game set, I think this game could be the most favorable for Maryland right now. Minnesota is struggling right now with suspensions and injuries, so it will be interesting to see where they are at when they roll into College Park on the 18th.
If Maryland can limit Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy, or at least have no one else go off, I like their chances.
-January 22nd: @Indiana
Another intriguing game for the Terrapins.
Indiana isn’t great, but also just beat Minnesota on the road, so they have the potential to take this one away from Maryland.
Assembly Hall is also one of the toughest places to play in the country, and having it as the third road game in their last four is a difficult scheduling wrinkle. The fact that they have a monster home game against Michigan State after this one is another potential trap for the young Terrapins.
This is a game that Maryland “should” win. However, it is a game they absolutely could lose. A loss would really hurt and put pressure on them to win a tough one against Michigan State.
-January 28th: Michigan State
The Ohio State loss was illuminating in many ways. The Buckeyes came out and took a big shot at the Spartans and Tom Izzo’s team never really responded. They settled for jump shots and got away from their normal offense. Here’s guessing that this will be harped on and fixed, but it offers a blueprint for defeating the Spartans.
Maryland can come out and try to do the same things. College Park should be rocking, and if Fernando, Huerter and Cowan are on, the Terps could pull the upset.
At the very least, expect a close one. Huge opportunity for Maryland to get a quality conference win to add to their somewhat lacking resume.
-January 31st: @Purdue
The Terrapins conclude the month by paying a visit to West Lafayette.
This one will be another tall order for the Terrapins, as the Boilermakers will be seeking a season sweep. The previous time these two teams played, Purdue torched the Terps with 50% shooting and all five players in double figures. You probably could predict a similar outcome at this point.
A 3-3 mark over the next six games would be big for Maryland. 2-4 seems more likely, but anything above that will put them in a decent position to get a top 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
Maryland has been a big question mark all season long. The remaining games in January will test Maryland like no other point so far this season. We’ll know what kind of team the Terps are after this stretch.