With several Big Ten Tournament seeding scenarios left, Maryland basketball still looking to prove itself on the road

With one regular season game remaining, seeding for the conference tournament remains fluid ahead of next week’s Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.

For Maryland, the road to a double-bye is simple: beat Penn State.

Maryland had a chance to secure that earlier in the week before stumbling on the road to Ohio State, igniting chaos among a host of teams chasing Purdue. But Maryland caught a break in the ensuing games, giving them hopes of still securing the coveted double-bye. Following Wednesday night’s loss, Maryland caught a break after Penn State forced overtime in Evanston before eventually defeating Northwestern 68-65. Purdue’s road win over Wisconsin on Thursday solidified the Boilermakers as the Big Ten regular-season champs, but a double-overtime win by Illinois over Michigan gave the Terps new hope. Shortly after, Minnesota battled back from a ten-point deficit in the final 75 seconds to pull off a thrilling 75-74 upset over Rutgers.

Now, Maryland enters the weekend as one of six teams tied at 11-8 with one regular season game left. Iowa is the lone team that holds the tiebreaker over Maryland, given the Terps defeated Northwestern, Indiana and Illinois in the lone regular-season matchups and Maryland holds the tiebreaker over Michigan thanks to the head-to-head record against Purdue.

That sets up for a massive final day of Big Ten regular season play with Maryland’s road game against Penn State the first of six conference games scheduled. With five of the games featuring at least one 11-8 team and ample possible scenarios in terms of seeding, the full slate of games that can impact Maryland’s seeding is:

  • 12 PM: Maryland at Penn State
  • 12:30 PM: Illinois at Purdue
  • 2 PM: Nebraska at Iowa
  • 4:30 PM: Michigan at Indiana
  • 7:30 PM: Northwestern at Rutgers

The only way Maryland climbs to a two-seed is if both Maryland beats Penn State and Nebraska upsets Iowa on the road. If both Iowa and Maryland win, Maryland could finish as high as third in the Big Ten. If Maryland loses, the Terps could stay as high as third or fall to as low as eighth if Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Rutgers all win. Of course, had Maryland defeated the Buckeyes on Wednesday, a double-bye would’ve been secured but the Terps were never able to find its groove on the defensive end as the Buckeyes eventually held onto a double-digit lead through the second half.

“We’ve really struggled with the Sunday-Wednesday turnarounds,” head coach Kevin Willard said following Wednesday’s loss. “We just haven’t brought the same energy that we bring on Sundays to Wednesdays. We came out and got a good bucket, but just did some things early that make you scratch your head. This was disappoint­ing. I thought we had a pretty good practice yesterday, but we just looked kind of lethargic today which just hasn’t been something this team does.”

While seeding will determine whether the Terps get an extra rest day, Maryland remains safely in the NCAA Tournament. Though ESPN dropped Maryland from a six to eight-seed following the loss, Maryland enters Sunday at 25th in the current NCAA NET rankings, the second-best among Big Ten teams, with three Quad 1 wins. Still, the latest loss dropped Maryland to 2-8 on the road this season and head coach Kevin Willard is focused on overcoming the hurdles that have consistently plagued his team on the road.

“We’ll practice really early on Saturday. We’ll bus up there, maybe get a workout beforehand. We haven’t been doing secondary workouts when we travel, maybe we just need to do something. Again, some of it is we’ve got to play better when the crowd, the crowd has affected us. For guys that are kind of older, crowds have affected us a little bit. Teams will go on runs, we’re rushing on offense at home and it’s hurting us.”

Tipoff for Maryland’s game against Penn State is set for noon on Sunday.

Related Links

Zac Spavital to become Maryland’s new safeties coach

Preview: Maryland men’s lacrosse set for top-five clash vs. Notre Dame

Pair of Maryland football cornerbacks shine at NFL combine

Four-star edge rusher returns to College Park, talks official visit plans (+)

Following unofficial, OT Mike Williams sets official visit to Maryland (+)