Big Ten Tournament seeding, opponent set for Maryland basketball

After entering Sunday with six conference games on the schedule and over 100 different conference seeding scenarios, the Big Ten Tournament is now set as Maryland’s opponent is official.

Maryland has drawn a sixseed and will face the winner of Nebraska-Minnesota at 9 PM EST on Thursday. The official bracket marks an end to a wild finish of Big Ten play, a day that featured both Maryland and Iowa suffering heartbreaking losses.

Maryland kicked the day off with a road game at Penn State but despite leading by as many as 16 in the second half, along with 12 with just over six minutes to play, the Nittany Lions clawed back before converting the game-winning putback in the final second. Maryland ended the regular season (20-11, 11-9) just 4-10 away from Xfinity including a 2-9 mark that leaves fans scratching their heads ahead of a postseason run.

While Maryland enters the conference tournament with just one win in their last five games, the bigger concern remains the lack of execution down the stretch in now their third straight road game. After squandering an eight-point lead against Nebraska, Maryland found itself outmanned and outmatched in Columbus on Wednesday night before falling 73-62. Maryland had a chance to rebound again on Sunday to close out the season, but down the stretch, Penn State had no problem shooting over Maryland’s defense before coming away with the game-winning bucket.

“It’s tough to win on the road in this conference,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said following the loss. “Last four road games we’ve had our chances and just haven’t been able to finish them, … Obviously we’re disappointed, frustrated and angry because we’ve worked hard and we have battled on the road. We just haven’t been able to finish.”

While the chance to exceed expectations with a runner-up finish in Big Ten play was dashed, the regular-season finale still marked a successful year one for Kevin Willard for a team picked to finish tenth in the preseason Big Ten standings. Now comes the time for Willard to string together the first potential postseason run as Maryland’s head coach, but first, they’ll look to move on from their road struggles.

“I think the biggest thing now is it’s single-elimination time. We had some lapses that led to threes and gave them momentum. I thought we made some plays, but needed to be a little more solid a few more times on the defensive end. We’ve played well, gave good effort and were physical, but when you struggle at times defensively on the road, teams will take advantage of those moments. I think we’ve shown great strides and have played well on neutral courts. The biggest things we’ll look at from today will be the possessions that got them back into the game as we get ready for Thursday.”

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