Big Ten men's basketball should be very good tonight as the Gophers try to pull a road upset against No. 24 Maryland.
The Terrapins beat Minnesota 85-78 at Williams Arena Jan. 28, coming back from a first half double-digit deficit after a 19-1 run by Minnesota put the Gophers up 21-9. That was the fifth straight loss for the Gophers, who have since rattled off five wins in a row, including two straight in overtime against Indiana and Michigan.
Tonight might be the perfect storm for the Gophers to pull the upset
Terps aren't the same team
Melo Trimble, who scored just 13 points against the Gophers, has busted out of his shooting slump, making 21 of 34, including 8 of 12 on 3-pointers on his way to 59 points in his last two games.
Trimble is dangerous, but the Terps will be without starting center Michal Cekovsky. He broke his ankle over the weekend against Wisconsin. That could mean a heavy advantage for Minnesota's defensive-minded frontcourt, led by shot blockers Reggie Lynch and freshman Eric Curry.
In the first meeting this season, the Terps got 28 points from freshman Justin Jackson and 19 more from freshman Kevin Huertas. They combined to make 10 of 12 threes. Huertas has been solid since, but Jackson has reached double-digit scoring – with a high of 14 – just once in the six games since.
What if Minnesota wins?
A win over Maryland would be monstrous for the Gophers. It would put them at 21-7 on the season and 9-6 in the Big Ten, ensuring, at worst, a .500 record in the conference.
A win could also bump Minnesota ahead of Maryland in the eyes of the selection committee. The Gophers and Maryland are six seeds in the latest bracketology from CBS Sports. Maryland is a six seed and the Gophers are an eight seed in ESPN's bracketology.
A loss wouldn't kill the Gophers but it definitely decreases their changes of securing a top seven or eight seed in the tourney.