BTP continues our countdown of the best Big Ten programs of the past decade. Prior articles in this series can be found here:
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Penn State Nittany Lions
- Northwestern Wildcats
- Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Illinois Fighting Illini
- Iowa Hawkeyes
- Indiana Hoosiers
As a reminder, we’ll be looking at eight categories for each program. The first four are the only ones that had any bearing on the ranking:
- Big Ten regular-season winning percentage
- Number of teams finishing ahead in the Big Ten standings
- Big Ten regular season titles
- Big Ten Tournament titles
- Team of the Decade
- Player of the Decade
- Regular Season Win of the Decade
- Regular Season Crushing Loss of the Decade
Our No. 6 entry from the 2010s is the Maryland Terrapins. Some people are upset that Maryland is in the Big Ten, but personally I love our friends from the Old Line State. They’re crazy about basketball, pack their arena, have fascinating online discussions about whether their program deserves better than the results its currently getting with their current coach, and they have a baller flag. I just wish they would win a goddamn Big Ten-ACC Challenge game as a Big Ten school.
Big Ten Winning Percentage
Maryland is the first team in our countdown to break the .500 mark in Big Ten play, clocking in at .641 for their five years in the Big Ten. For reference, Gary Williams was .552 in the ACC over the course of his career in College Park. Either the ACC was better than the Big Ten, Mark Turgeon is better than Gary Williams, or Maryland has permanently elevated itself as a program this past decade. I don’t think any of those three things are true, but it’s hard to argue that .641 isn’t a hell of a lot better than .552.
Teams Finishing Ahead of Maryland
In five years, fifteen teams finished ahead of Maryland in the standings. Normalizing for a full decade, that makes 30, or an average fourth-place finish. That’s actually better than the No. 3 and No. 5 teams in our power rankings, but consistently finishing in the upper quarter of the conference isn’t nearly as impressive if you don’t break through and win the league at some point. Which brings us to our next categories...
Big Ten Regular Season Titles
Big Ten Tournament Titles
None. Our boy Turge made it to the semifinals each of his fist two years, but he’s currently sitting on a four-game Big Ten Tournament losing streak.
Team of the Decade
Only teams from the Big Ten years were considered, which means the 2010 ACC Co-Champion Terrapins, led by Gen. Greivis Vasquez, are not eligible. That leaves the 2016 Terps, which featured a starting lineup of Melo Trimble, Robert Carter, Diamond Stone, Rasheed Sulaimon, and Jake Layman. That was a scary team, and at one point they sat at 10-2 in the Big Ten and looked like they might cruise to a league title. Then they played a mid-February game against non-D1 Bowie State, presumably as a tribute to David Bowie, who died earlier that year. They beat the Bulldogs, but went on to lose four of their next six.
Player of the Decade
Say what you will about Melo Trimble—that he could give Dwyane Wade a run for his money when it comes to jerking his head back for a phantom foul call, that he stayed in college at least one year too long and cost himself millions of dollars—but he’s the one Maryland player in the Turgeon era that reached like 85% of his ceiling while in College Park. Trimble was in the program three years, which means he stayed around longer than most Terrapin stars in the Big Ten era. (Seriously, the only four-year guys Maryland has had in five years have been Jake Layman and Michal Cekovsky, and Cekovsky was a scrub.) Bruno Fernando was more dynamic, Kevin Huerter is going to end up being a better pro, but nobody did more heavy lifting than our man Melo.
Regular Season Win of the Decade
February 24, 2015.
The 2015 Wisconsin Badgers may have been the best Big Ten team this past decade. Kaminsky, Dekker, and Hayes was certainly the best frontcourt. There were only three teams that were able to defeat the Badgers that season: Duke (twice, once in the national championship game), Rutgers (lolwut), and Maryland. This was the win that let the rest of the schools in the Big Ten know that College Park would be one of the toughest road environments in the conference going forward. And that’s been borne out. Half the league still hasn’t won in the Xfinity Center, including Indiana and Ohio State, and only Michigan and Purdue have won there more than once.
Maryland 59, Wisconsin 53.
Regular Season Crushing Loss of the Decade
February 4, 2017.
Maryland and Purdue have had some good games since the Terrapins joined the league, but none better than this one. Early in the second half, the Terms led 52-40, and it looked like the Boilermakers would be heading back to the Midwest with an L against their name. But Purdue rattled off an 11-0 run to close the gap, and it was a nip-and-tuck affair the rest of the way after that.
The ending of this one was particularly... I don’t know if controversial is the right word. Stupid is probably a better way to put it. The ending was stupid if you were a Maryland fan. Freshman Carsen Edwards took a shot with two seconds to go. He missed it, but he was fouled. The freshman, in one of the craziest road environments of all time, calmly sank his two free throws to give Purdue a one-point lead. Maryland inbounded with a chance to win the game. They threw it right to Isaac Haas. Haas traveled. After the officials took a trip to the monitor, and with fans of both schools screaming at their TV screen so hard that spittle was flying, Maryland got the ball back with half a second left. Kevin Huerter hoisted a shot. Clank.
Purdue 73, Maryland 72.
Fake Internet Quote That Puts It All In Perspective
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over one more season with my Terrapins right on the verge.
Visions of the old Terp masters: Dixon, Wilcox, Lonny Baxter
Flashed before my eyes much faster, faster than bad thoughts emerged.
“’Tis 2002,” I muttered, “from which all these hopes emerge.
Only this nostalgic urge.”
Recent players of Testudo: Trimble, Cowan, Huerter, Bruno…
Stuck with season-ending losses; March our recent scourge.
West Virginia, Kansas, Xavier—losses that no fan doth savor
LSU, with misbehavior! Losses that cannot be purged!
“Lord,” prayed I, “will March again become a time when turtles surge?”
Quoth Jehovah: “Not with Turge.”
—Edgar Allen Poe