After trailing by eight at halftime, Maryland men’s basketball slowly chipped away at Wisconsin’s lead throughout half as it searched for a comeback victory on the road.

The Terps got close. Maryland fought back within four points before Wisconsin’s Max Klesmit hit what appeared to be a dagger three-pointer with less than a minute to go, putting the Badgers up seven. Maryland hit three three-pointers in the final 40 seconds and cut the Wisconsin lead to two, but narrowly fell once again Tuesday.

The Terps are now 1-9 in games decided by five points or less this season. They’ve lost five of their last six contests — four of those defeats have come by five points or less.

Maryland’s recent stretch has completely dashed its already slim NCAA tournament hopes, barring a miracle Big Ten tournament run. It leaves the Terps in an unprecedentedly bad spot despite the competitive nature of most of their defeats.

“They’re playing hard, they’re working hard, they have a great attitude,” coach Kevin Willard said. “They’re just as frustrated as I am with the fact that we just can’t string together some W’s.”

Maryland sits at 14-13, in danger of finishing the season with a losing record for the second time in three years. The Terps hadn’t finished below .500 since 1993 before Mark Turgeon’s midseason departure in 2021 led to a 15-17 finish.

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The Terps have never finished lower than 10th in the Big Ten since joining in 2014 but currently sit 12th out of 14 teams in the conference standings with four games to go. If Maryland finishes among the bottom four teams in the conference, it will fail to get a bye and play in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament for the first time.

Despite their 6-10 league record, the Terps still rank eighth in KenPom and ninth in the NET out of the Big Ten’s 14 teams.

While there is an element of Maryland being unlucky to end up on the wrong side of so many close contests — KenPom’s luck metric, which measures the deviation in winning percentage between a team’s actual record and their expected record, ranks Maryland 356th out of 362 Division I teams — various factors have played into the Terps’ late-game struggles.

Maryland has relied heavily on its starters throughout the whole season, and it’s shown near the end of games.

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Jahmir Young is averaging 35.6 minutes per game this season, which is on pace to be the ninth most in program history. Young, Julian Reese and Donta Scott rank fourth, 10th and 15th respectively among Big Ten players in minutes played — Northwestern is the only other team with three players in the top 15.

“You got to be a little bit more mentally sharp this time of year in conference play. And I thought yesterday, even Thursday, we were just not as sharp as we’ve been, just because we’ve just been tired,” Willard said after Maryland’s 85-80 loss to then-No. 14 Illinois Saturday. “I was proud of their effort. We had our chances.”

The Terps’ season-long offensive struggles have also put them in deficits that they’ve struggled to overcome. Maryland sits 314th nationally in effective field goal percentage and 346th nationally in three-point percentage, according to KenPom.

While a defense that slots in at sixth in the country by adjusted defensive efficiency has usually kept things close, the Terps have struggled to come back from early shortfalls and often failed to make timely shots to tie or win games late.

Maryland stayed within striking range of Illinois and Wisconsin in its last two losses, but never took the lead in the second half of either game.

Now, the Terps’ season is slowly fading away without much hope of a postseason success.