Maryland men’s basketball’s four-game win streak has boosted the Terps near the top of the Big Ten standings as they near the end of conference play.
The Terps are in a six-way tie for third place in the Big Ten with a 7-5 conference record despite starting conference play by losing five of their first eight games, a run that included three straight Big Ten losses at Wisconsin, Michigan and Rutgers.
Since a close loss to No. 1 Purdue on Jan. 22, Maryland has rattled off three straight home wins against Wisconsin, Nebraska and then-No. 21 Indiana before notching its joint largest ever Big Ten win at Minnesota Saturday.
The Terps only gave up 58 points to the Boilermakers in the loss and haven’t given up more than 63 points in a game since. Maryland had given up an average of about 70 points per game in its first seven Big Ten contests and allowed at least 58 in each of those games.
“On the road, you know, I thought the turning point was how much we battled at Purdue,” coach Kevin Willard said. “Defensively, I thought our guys really started to figure out who we are again.”
The Terps’ recent hot streak has them receiving votes in the latest AP poll for the first time since Dec. 26, 2022, unofficially coming in as the 34th ranked team in the country Monday.
Additionally, the Terps jumped up to No. 28 in the NET rankings, which takes into account factors such as game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin and net offensive and defensive efficiency.
Maryland also rose to No. 23 in Ken Pomroy’s rankings following the Minnesota win after dropping as low as No. 43 in the same rankings following its loss to Iowa.
The Terps are currently slated to be a No. 8 seed in the national tournament, according to the latest ESPN bracket projections. Willard would be the first Maryland coach to qualify for the NCAA tournament in their first season at the helm if the Terps receive an automatic or at-large bid to the tournament.
Willard’s squad took care of the ball during its stretch of five wins in their last six games. The Terps have notched an assist-to-turnover ratio above one in each of their last six matchups after failing to do so in their first six conference games. That 5-1 stretch started with Maryland’s win over Michigan on Jan. 19.
The Terps will have the opportunity to stay near the top of the Big Ten table. They only play one team currently above them in the standings — the current top seed in the Big Ten, No. 1 Purdue, at home on Feb. 16 — and only one team in the six-team draw for third place — Northwestern at home on Feb. 26 — through the rest of the season.
The other six of Maryland’s eight remaining matchups come against opponents who are at or below .500 in Big Ten play. The Terps will look to notch their second straight win on the road in conference play at Michigan State Tuesday after starting Big Ten play 0-5 away from Xfinity Center.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Julian Reese said. “We got to keep this mentality going into Michigan State … but I feel like this is a great start.”