NCAA Basketball

Maryland basketball must continue a pattern vs. Wisconsin

Maryland basketball has developed a streak of losing on the road and then winning at home repeatedly to stay in the NCAA tournament picture. The Terps have lost their last six on the road and won nine of ten at home. They need to continue that formula tonight when Wisconsin visits the Xfinity Center (7 p.m., BTN). At 12-7 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play, they are 11th in the conference standings and clinging to a spot on the right side of the projected NCAA Tournament bubble.

To boost their postseason profile, they must take advantage of a three-game homestand with winnable games against Wisconsin, Nebraska and Indiana.

“Of course we want to be better than three and five of course. But I think the fact that we’ve had the toughest conference schedule going forward and where we are and what we have in front of us with home games,” Maryland coach Kevin Willard said, “I think it’s a big stretch for us, but at the same time it gives us a chance to get some good wins.”

Maryland can tie Wisconsin (12-6, 4-4 Big Ten) in the standings and in the season series with a win after losing to the Badgers in Madison six weeks ago, 64-59. It was Maryland’s first loss after a red-hot 8-0 start that catapulted them to No. 13 in the AP Poll. It started the streak of six straight in non-home games. The Terps have continued to limit opponents defensively, ranking 31st nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency per. KenPom, but has struggled on the other end, ranking last in the Big Ten in scoring during conference play at 61.5 points per game. match.

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“When we had the 8-0 start, we were high in defensive efficiency and offensive efficiency,” the point guard said Jahmir Young, whose scoring ended with a 4-for-18 day in Maryland’s narrow loss Sunday at now-No. 1 Purdue. “Just trying to focus on our tempo, trying to speed up the game and play our spot instead of their tempo is something we’re going to try to do.”

It may seem strange that Maryland is favored by 5.5 points until you look at the recent games and lack of rest for its opponent. Wisconsin, who just got leading scorer and second leading rebounder Tyler Wahl (12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds per game) back from injury, was ranked for part of the season but has fallen out of the polls after losing four of his last five. All of the losses have come against unranked Big Ten Teams, most recently at Northwestern. That game was postponed from Saturday to Monday, giving the Badgers some time to travel to Maryland for tonight’s game.

“It’s like — we’ve played three in a row in the Bahamas. If you get into the postseason, you’re playing every other day,” coach coach. Greg Gard said. “These guys are basketball players. They’re used to this.”

Wisconsin will be without its top defender, the junior guard Max Klesmit. Maryland hopes to build on its second-half effort at Purdue — the overall No. 1 projected March Madness seed — where it outscored the Boilermakers 34-23 in their notoriously tough home field.

“We can play with anybody in the country if we could bring it for 40 minutes,” Young said.

A win over the Badgers, a projected NCAA Tournament team, would add some juice to Maryland’s tournament resume

“They have a great attitude. I show them all the KenPom stuff, which ranks conference schedules, who you’ve played, where they rank,” Willard said. “I give them all that information. I show them Bracketology. I think it’s very important for them to understand, like 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. So I’ve always been very, very open with my teams about where we are, what we have in front of us.”

It will help their case if the second year center Julian Reese continues its improvement. He had one of the best games of his career at Purdue, making 8 of 11 shots and scoring 19 points while being matched up with the national player of the year favorite. Zach Edey.

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“It’s huge, especially when you think, I go back the last two games and what he’s done against Hunter (Dickinson) and uh Zach,” Willard said. “The elite center not only in this conference but in college basketball. I thought he won the Hunter game … And even the other night Zach had an incredible night, but I thought I thought he had an incredible night .

“I think he’s got a lot of confidence because he’s put in a lot of extra work, and I think our guys have a lot of confidence in him.”

Wisconsin has won three straight in the series and the last two in College Park. Maryland is coming off a 3-for-21 3-point shooting performance at Purdue and continues to be limited by its deep shooting, which ranks as No. 327 nationally with 30.1 per cent.

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