With the way college basketball — and especially the Big Ten — has played out this year, Maryland men’s basketball’s loss to now-No. 23 Penn State isn’t shocking. The top 11 teams in this week’s AP top-25 poll each have at least one loss to their name, and the home squad has won all 13 Big Ten matchups so far.
With that kind of parity, the Terps dropped just three slots to No. 7 in the country after their seven-point loss Tuesday in State College. Coach Mark Turgeon’s squad displayed clear flaws in its first true road test — such as scoring droughts, turnovers and a lack of bench production — but even the top teams in the country have faltered.
Maryland’s no different, it appears, although it has another road matchup with Seton Hall on Thursday.
Ohio State had risen to No. 3 following an impressive start to the campaign, yet an 84-71 loss to Minnesota dropped it two spots to No. 5. Elsewhere in the conference, Michigan is now No. 14, dropping nine spots after losses to Illinois and now-No. 8 Oregon. Michigan State slots in at No. 15, while the Nittany Lions entered the poll for the first time this season.
The Terps had snuck out a one-point victory over the Fighting Illini on Dec. 7 in their Big Ten opener, needing a deep 3-pointer from Anthony Cowan to tie things, plus a steal and a free throw from the senior guard to seal it.
In the 76-69 loss to Penn State on Tuesday, Maryland shot just 33 percent. Forward Jalen Smith posted his seventh double-double of the year, but he played only 28 minutes due to foul trouble. Cowan led the scoring with 16 points, yet the Nittany Lions knocked off the No. 4 team in the country with five players in double figures.
At the beginning of the season, Seton Hall appeared to be the Terps’ toughest nonconference challenge. Now, though, the Pirates appear to be without forward Sandro Mamukelashvili and guard Myles Powell through injury.