With March quickly approaching, the Big Ten tournament picture is starting to take shape. With Maryland playing their last seven games against five teams that are probably going to make the tournament, the Terps’ clash with Michigan State Thursday night is crucial.
Maryland (20-3, 9-1) currently sits atop the Big Ten, riding a five-game winning streak.
The team most recently beat Nebraska on Feb. 4, a tightly contested game that featured sophomore guard Kaila Charles recording a double-double with 25 points and 16 rebounds, her highest rebounding total this season.
“We put a heavy emphasis on sharing the ball and that’s when you see us play our best,” Charles said.
However, Maryland has not played well on the road as of late, with three of their last four road games being wins under ten points. Two of those wins came against Northwestern and Penn state, who are in the bottom half of the Big Ten.
“I try not to focus on if we’re home or on the road,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “We just have to be the most complete team.”
The last time Maryland played the Spartans was the Terps’ first game after the devastating Blair Watson injury. Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon had a career high 25 points as the Spartans led the Terps all game en route to a 14-point victory and the Terps first and only Big Ten loss.
Ever since that upset, the Spartans have been on a downslide, winning their next game against Big Ten bottom feeder Illinois, and since have been on a five-game losing streak.
Michigan State has four players scoring in double figures, and they play an unselfish game, ranking 15th in the nation in assists per game(18).
However, Maryland is one of the best teams as well when it comes to sharing the ball, ranking 14th in assists per game in the nation. The Terps are also the only team that currently has seven players averaging double-digit points.
Rebounding will be key for Maryland. No Michigan State player averages over six rebounds, compared to Maryland, who has four players averaging six boards.
Four of the Terps’ next seven games will come on the road, their last challenge before tournament play. It will be the last challenge before the Terps hit tournament play.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
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