Big Ten Tournament: #6 Maryland takes on #14 Minnesota in first round

No. 14 Minnesota (9-21, 3-17) vs. No. 6 Maryland (20-11, 11-9)

When: Thursday, March 9

Where: United Center

TV: BTN – Brandon Gaudin (pxp), Robbie Hummel (analyst)

Radio: WJZ-FM 105.7 (Baltimore), The TEAM 980 AM (D.C.)

Spread: Maryland -13

The Big Ten Tournament is underway and Maryland basketball found out who their opponent would be last night after the No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers narrowly escaped the No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers 68-65.

How did the Golden Gophers do it? Well, they withstood a hot shooting night from Cornhusker guard Keisei Tominaga who had a game-high 23 points. Guard Sam Griesel had 16 points and secured 12 rebounds in the game.

What can you say about Ta’lon Cooper? The guy has an outstanding court vision. He came up big for the Golden Gophers with 16 points and 12 assists. While he wasn’t scoring at a high level in the first half, the team could depend on him to score and distribute in the second half.

Dawson Garcia played all 40 minutes along with Cooper and scored 18 points to go along with 13 rebounds. He has come on strong for the team as of late. Now fully healthy, we’re seeing the impact he has on the team.

Cooper, Garcia, and Jamison Battle will be players to watch in this game. So, it will be important for the Terps to contain at least two of them, if not all three.

Maryland Basketball is coming off a tough 65-64 road loss to Penn State. The No. 2 seed was Maryland’s, but they squandered a 16-point lead to lose in the final seconds. Who was the guy that made the big play? Camren Wynter. He only scored six points and secured three rebounds but made the best play when it mattered most. His layup in the final seconds came just as three Terps defenders were in a position to grab a rebound and seal the victory.

Terps head coach Kevin Willard spoke about the frustration in the locker room after the game and his appreciation for it.

“I loved how disappointed we were after the game. It almost it was very emotional. There were guys yelling at each other, guys yelling at me, Their heart was into it. They wanted it, they knew it was at stake. I think when you have that much buy-in and kids care that much, that’s a good thing. That’s not a bad thing,” Willard said.

Second-Team All-Big Ten guard Jahmir Young had 26 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Willard admitted his bias and said that Young should have been a first-team selection. To be clear, he’s not taking anything away from the players who earned those spots. Willard understands what Young is for this team and knows the coaches do as well.

He will be a key piece in the game tonight along with Big Ten Honorable Mentions Hakim Hart, Julian Reese, and Donta Scott.

While the Terps’ road record is bad, they have a winning record on neutral site courts (2-1) with wins over St. Louis and Miami earlier this season. They swept Minnesota this season with convincing wins in both meetings. That doesn’t mean anything now. Minnesota looks like a completely different team despite their record. Don’t be surprised if an upset takes place because it can.

Willard also understands what it’s like to play the nine o’clock game in conference tournaments because of his experience with Seton Hall in the Big East.

How a team handles the next day is key. If you win the game, it’s important to understand how to get your guys the proper rest and recovery time. That’s as important as getting them prepared with the game plan and scouting report.

The winner of this matchup will play the No. 3 Indiana Hoosiers Friday night in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal round.

Related Links

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Kevin Willard talks bounce back after Penn State, Big Ten Tournament prep, pair of vets

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