(JACK CASSIDY/AP) — Maryland’s stellar first season in the Big Ten afforded it a short rest before it opens play in the conference tournament.
It’ll kick off for the eighth-ranked Terrapins on Friday night in the quarterfinals in Chicago against Indiana, which is desperate to improve its resume for the NCAA Tournament.READ MORE: Baltimore Police Looking For Missing 16-Year-Old Girl
Maryland (26-5, 14-4) finished second in the conference behind No. 6 Wisconsin and enters the tournament on a seven-game winning streak.
The Terrapins capped that run with road victories over Rutgers on March 3 and Nebraska on Sunday, clinching the program’s best season since they won 32 games and the national championship in 2001-02.
In his fourth season at Maryland, Mark Turgeon will be trying to secure a career-best 27th win. Turgeon, who earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, also won 26 games in 2005-06 while leading Wichita State to the regional semifinals.
“Coach Turgeon taught me how to lead and be patient,” senior Dez Wells said. “He stood by me. We stood by each other. I am really excited for him. He is an outstanding coach and very deserving of the award. Coach is such a hard worker who is committed to making Maryland basketball the very best.”
Wells recorded two of his six career double-doubles in the last two games, recording 20 points and 10 rebounds against Rutgers before scoring 18 with 12 boards Sunday.
Freshman star Melo Trimble also enters the conference tournament with momentum after having 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists against Nebraska. He has scored at least 20 a team-high nine times.
The Terrapins are 2-0 in neutral-site games, beating Arizona State and No. 13 Iowa State in November to win the CBE Classic title.
They didn’t manage a spotless record against the Hoosiers (20-12). Maryland lost 89-70 at then-No. 23 Indiana on Feb. 22 before winning the next matchup 68-66 on Feb. 11.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: A Brief Thaw Wednesday Before Snow Moves In
Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell hit seven of eight 3-pointers and scored 24 in the win before shooting 6 of 9 from beyond the arc with 23 points last month. Wells and Trimble scored 18 apiece in the last meeting.
Indiana has beaten four ranked opponents, but bad losses to Eastern Washington and Northwestern, as well as a three-game skid to end the regular season, has the Hoosiers’ bid to the NCAA Tournament anything but secure.
“I really don’t know,” coach Tom Crean said of his team’s at-large chances. “No one knows, and that’s the beauty of it all.”
Indiana matched its second-highest total this season with 32 3-point attempts Thursday in a 71-56 win over Northwestern in the second round, and it leads the Big Ten with 23.1 attempted 3s per game.
Maryland allows opponents to shoot 31.4 percent from behind the arc, which ranks second in the conference, but the Hoosiers shot 68.2 percent (15 for 22) on Jan. 22. It was the Terrapins’ worst mark since allowing George Washington to shoot 71.4 percent Dec. 5, 2004.
Indiana could be without Hanner Mosquera-Perea after he suffered a right knee injury Thursday. He scored four points in 11 minutes against Maryland on Feb. 11 but missed the first meeting due to an injury to the same knee.
“Hanner plays a big part in this group, but whoever needs to step up, I know they will,” forward Emmitt Holt said. “We’re all in this together, so whatever happens happens.”
Freshman James Blackmon Jr. had 25 points Thursday. He scored 22 in January’s meeting before shooting 2 for 14 last month.
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Listen to the game on 105.7 The Fan. Pregame starts at 6pm