MINNEAPOLIS — Very little has gone Maryland’s way all year long. When things have, it’s been because of the Terps’ defense.

Even that was abysmal on Thursday as the Badgers scored the most points Kevin Willard’s squad allowed all season.

Wisconsin obliterated Maryland, 87-56, in the second round of the Big Ten tournament. It was the Terps’ largest defeat of the season and their worst in a conference tournament since 1993.

It very likely marks the end of a tumultuous season that began with plenty of hope. Entering the year, Kevin Willard said his team had a much higher ceiling than they did last season when Maryland made and won a game in the NCAA tournament.

There was reason to believe that would be the case following the coach’s strong first year at the helm — but it became increasingly clear throughout the season that the Terps weren’t able to build off the foundation they set a year ago.

[Julian Reese’s return restored Maryland men’s basketball’s stingy defense]

Unless Maryland receives an NIT bid and wins at least two games, it’ll end its season with a losing record for just the second time since the turn of the century.

The top two teams that don’t make the NCAA tournament in each Power Six conference based on NET rankings earn an automatic bid to the NIT. The Terps entered the day ninth in the NET among Big Ten teams. ESPN currently projects six teams from the conference to make the tournament, with Iowa ranked as one of the “next four out.”

Julian Reese watches a shot during Maryland men’s basketball’s 87-56 loss to Wisconsin on March 14, 2024. (Jordan Budney/The Diamondback)

Young said that a priority for the Terps was limiting the Badgers threes ahead of the game. But Wisconsin made its first five three-pointers of the game to grab a 12 point lead after seven minutes of play on Thursday.

“They made a couple shots early and they got going,” Willard said. “Give them credit. They just kept going.”

The Terps boasted the second-best three-point defense in the conference entering the contest, but couldn’t stop the Badgers from finding the bottom of the net. Kevin Willard called multiple Maryland timeouts in hopes of stopping Wisconsin, but it was to no avail.

[Maryland men’s basketball cruises past Rutgers in first round of Big Ten tourney, 65-51]

The Badgers’ lead grew to 21 by halftime as they shot 64.3 percent from the field and went 10-for-13 from three. They ended the day 16-for-25 from behind the arc in their demolition of the Terps.

“They shot at such a high percentage from three and we couldn’t run them off the line,” Young said. “They had us running on defense for a majority of the game.”

Young put together an impressive half for Maryland, shooting 7-for-11 to score 15 points. But the rest of the Terps struggled to keep up, going 5-for-17 as Willard’s squad entered the break trailing 47-26.

Wisconsin’s dominance continued into the second half. The Badgers scored the first 18 points after the break, and any life that Maryland had was sucked out.

The defeat encapsulated the Terps’ brutal year as Willard is now tasked with replenishing a roster that’s losing at least two of its top three scorers and could see additional departures in the transfer portal.

“Next time when I come here I’ve just gotta know we got to have our team prepared to fight from the jump,” said freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith, who finished Thursday’s game with 16 points. “You can’t just take a first punch like that because sometimes you’re not gonna be able to recover.”

Kevin Willard during Maryland men’s basketball’s 87-56 loss to Wisconsin on March 14, 2024. (Jordan Budney/The Diamondback)