Preview: Maryland Kicks Off Three-Game Homestand versus Wisconsin

Wisconsin (12-6, 4-4) vs. Maryland (12-7, 3-5)

When: Wednesday, January 25 at 7 PM

Where: College Park, MD

TV: BTN / Brandon Guadin (pxp), Stephen Bardo (analyst)

Radio: 105.7 (Baltimore)/ 980 AM (DC)

Maryland basketball returns to action tonight with a chance to inch their way on the right side of the bubble with the February slate right around the corner. The Terps will do so against the team that handed them their first defeat after Wisconsin came away with a 64-59 win back on December 13.

Wednesday night marks the first of a three-game homestand over the next week as Maryland has a chance to get back over .500 in conference play. “I think the fact that we’ve had the hardest conference schedule going forward and where we are and what we have ahead of us with home games. It’s not who you play again, it’s just I’ve always thought it’s home games against road games. I think it’s a big stretch for us, but at the same time it gives us a chance to get some good wins.”

Wisconsin is coming off a three-point road loss to Northwestern on Monday night, their fourth loss in five games, and the Badgers will be shorthanded again with junior guard Max Klesmit (upper body) not expected to play versus Maryland. “More than likely, yeah,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard said regarding Klesmit. “We don’t know for sure, but he’s still back on campus.” It’s a notable loss for the Badgers on the defensive end as the Badgers enter Wednesday night allowing 62.9 points per game. The Badgers will have senior forward Tyler Wahl available as he leads the Badgers in points (12.8) while Steven Crowl has finished in double figures in nine of the last 12 games. Wahl returned to action for the home win against Penn State last week after missing the previous two weeks and has finished in double figures in both games. While Maryland will look to capitalize on the Badgers’ depth, Willard is picking up a closer grasp on Wisconsin’s identity.

“They have a very unique ability to make everybody play their pace. I’ve never seen anything like it. They just play their pace. It doesn’t matter what the score is, it doesn’t matter who’s on the floor, doesn’t matter who’s coaching,” Willard said of the Badgers. “And Greg’s a phenomenal coach. I mean, Bo [Ryan] was there. I played against Bo way back in the day. It was a five-point game and I still remember this, it was like crickets in the building because they just, we were making a little bit of run and they just play their pace and they have that style that will just grind you up and get you to play at their pace, which is not most teams tempo, but they do it and they do it phenomenally year in, year out.”

Willard admitted he’s been calculated with who takes the ball up the floor for Maryland, but they will look to find ways to push the tempo on Wednesday night. “Just trying to focus on that, focus on our tempo, trying to speed the game up and play at our place instead of their pace is something that we’re gonna try to do tomorrow,” Jahmir Young added.

While Willard admitted the magnitude of each game picks up as he added “every game matters,” the Terps will use Wednesday as a chance to bolster their tournament resume. Maryland will look to move to 10-1 inside the Xfinity Center and a chance to pick up their second Quad 2 win. Maryland enters the week on the cusp of the bubble for the 2023 NCAA Tournament with a pair of outlets projecting 11 seeds and another listing the Terps on the outside looking in.

“I show them all the KenPom stuff which ranks conference schedules, who you’ve played, where they rank, what our defense is. I show, I give them all that information,” Willard said. “I show ’em bracketology. I think it’s very important for them to understand. The kids don’t see [the] big picture, so it’s an adult’s job to inform them and educate them and try to give them the best picture possible. I’ve always been very, very open with my teams about where we are and what we have ahead of us.”

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