Preview: Iowa-Maryland Meet Up in Meaningful B1G Matchup

February 18, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The top four teams in the Big Ten standings at regular-season’s end receive a double bye in the conference tournament next month.

It’s important.

Since Maryland and Rutgers joined the league for the 2014-15 season, all four champions have been among the Top 4 seeds. Sixth-seeded Penn State in ’11 was the last team outside the first four to win the title .

A big game in determining the Top 4 this year goes down Tuesday night when No. 21 Iowa plays host to No. 24 Maryland at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Terrapins (19-7 overall, 10-5 Big Ten) hold a half-game lead over the Hawkeyes (20-5, 9-5) and Wisconsin (17-8, 9-5).

The Badgers are listed as a 9.5-point favorite Monday night at home against Illinois. They’ll likely pull even with Maryland.

Tuesday’s meeting will be the only one during the regular season for the Terrapins and Iowa. That’s a big advantage for the winner if the situation comes down to a tiebreaker.

Wisconsin beat the Hawkeyes on Nov. 30 in Iowa City. The Badgers split two meetings with Maryland.

Iowa will try avenging its loss to Wisconsin on March 7 in Madison.

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As you can see, if the Hawkeyes, who are tied with Illinois for the longest current winning streak (four games) in the league, continue stacking victories, they’ll secure a Top-4 finish. It starts on Tuesday against Maryland (7 p.m., BTN).

In the teams’ lone meeting a year ago, the Terrapins rolled to a 91-73 victory in College Park.

Maryland will be attempting to do something it hasn’t pulled off in more than 11 years – defeat a ranked team on the road. As the school’s student newspaper wrote, Barack Obama hadn’t yet been elected president of the United State at that point.

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Current Terps coach Mark Turgeon owns an 0-19 road record against ranked teams after Saturday’s loss at Michigan. At his previous job (Texas A&M), the Aggies were winless against ranked opponents on the road during his four years at the helm.

Maryland is enjoying a solid season despite losing two key underclassmen (Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson) off of last year’s team to the NBA. Before falling 65-52 at Michigan on Saturday, it ended Purdue’s eight-game winning streak.

The Terrapins boast a pair of big men projected to be first-round picks in June. Sophomore center Bruno Fernando is averaging 14.5 points and 10.6 rebounds, while heavily-recruited freshman Jalen Smith contributes 11.8 and 6.8.

They’re complemented by junior guard Anthony Cowen, who leads the team in scoring (15.8 PPG) and assists (4.5). He’s joined on the perimeter by productive running mates in Eric Ayala (8.8 PPG), Aaron Wiggins (8.7) and Darryl Morsell (7.6).

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The Hawkeyes are coming off back-to-back wins in which the difference was a three-pointer with less than a second remaining. They continue their miraculous turnaround from last season, when they finished 14-19 overall and 4-14 in the Big Ten.

They lead the Big Ten in scoring (81.2 PPG), while Maryland ranks fifth (72.8). The Terrapins sit at No. 5 in scoring defense (64.6). Iowa is second to last at 73.0 PPG.

Maryland paces the conference in rebounding margin at (+9.9) and is second in blocked shots (4.7 BPG). It’s last in turnover margin at (-3.7).

TIP-INS: Tuesday will be Iowa’s 600th game inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena (457-142, .763)…Tuesday’s game features the top two free throw shooting teams in the Big Ten. In conference games only, Maryland ranks first (.757) followed by Iowa (.755)…Iowa has five Quad 1 wins and six Quad 2 wins. All five Iowa losses are Quad 1 losses…Iowa assistant coach Sherman Dillard began his coaching career at Maryland, spending six seasons (1979-85) as an assistant coach.

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