By Andrew R. Koch
Maryland’s men’s and women’s basketball teams started the season ranked in the top 10 in the media and coaches’ polls. After a school-record 28 win season and an appearance in the Round of 32 in last year’s NCAA tournament, the men’s team added three new pieces in two graduate transfers and one of the highest-rated freshmen in the country, and are a popular pick to win not only the Big Ten, but also make a deep run this year’s NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, head coach Brenda Frese’s squad is looking to get back to the Final Four in the women’s tournament for a third straight year. Both teams are showing that they’re still legitimate contenders, despite early losses in their conference schedules.
Men Score Major Conference Win
During the last offseason, forward Diamond Stone of Milwaukee stunned the college basketball world by announcing that he’d accepted a scholarship offer from Maryland, saying “I want to be a national champion,” and he felt that head coach Mark Turgeon’s team gave him the best chance to reach that goal. Stone, who was a top-five forward prospect in his senior season of high school, chose Maryland over Wisconsin, which was also recruiting him and would’ve given him a chance to stay close to home. Stone has adapted very well to the college game, averaging 13 points (third on the Terrapins) and 5.4 rebounds (second on the team) per game. He’s regularly imposing his will in the low post and frequently scoring in double figures coming off the bench.
Two other additions to the Terrapins have also been key contributors throughout the season. Rasheed Sulaimon, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, joined as a senior graduate transfer from Duke. Last season, Sulaimon became the only player to ever be dismissed from a Mike Krzyzewski-coached team. Sulaimon has proven to be an adept ball-handler when sophomore point guard Melo Trimble has needed a rest, and can spread the floor with his long-range shooting ability. Sulaimon is averaging 10.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, and is in the top 5 for the Terps in all three categories. The other senior graduate transfer who’s been contributing in a big way to Maryland is Robert Carter, Jr., who transferred from Georgia Tech. Carter has given Maryland depth along the front line, and is second on the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) while leading in rebounding (6.9 rebounds per game).
Maryland scored its biggest win of the season in its last home game. The eighth-ranked Terps welcomed the third-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes to Xfinity Center on Jan. 28, and in a close game for all 40 minutes, pulled out a 74-68 win. Carter and Sulaimon each scored 17 points, and Maryland overcame poor shooting in the second half to give Iowa its first loss in conference play and snap the Hawkeyes’ nine-game winning streak. The Terps bounced back from a 74-65 loss at Michigan State on Jan. 23. Maryland is currently 19-3 overall (8-2, third in Big Ten), and still hasn’t lost a home conference game.
Maryland Women Continue Domination of B1G
After fading late in an 80-71 loss to then ninth-ranked Ohio State on Jan. 2, capping a stretch of two losses in three games in six days, the Lady Terps have picked up right where they left off last season. Maryland has reeled off six straight wins, and are currently 19-2 overall (8-1 Big Ten). The only thing that seems to have slowed Frese’s team down is the weather, as games against Michigan State and Penn State were postponed by the historic blizzard that buried the Mid-Atlantic between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24. During Maryland’s current winning streak, the closest game was a 74-67 win by Maryland at Michigan on Jan. 14. Only one other game has been decided by less than 20 points in favor of the Terps.
The Maryland men will have a rematch against Michigan in College Park on Feb. 21. The Terps lost at Michigan 70-67 on Jan. 12. Maryland will also play number 18 Purdue at home on Feb. 6, and then travel to West Lafayette, Indiana on Feb. 18. Both games are scheduled to be aired on ESPN. Senior Night in College Park will be on March 3. The Big Ten Tournament will be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis March 9-13.
The women’s game against Michigan State has been rescheduled for Feb. 5. The Lady Terps have rematches against number seven Ohio State on Feb. 8, Northwestern on Feb. 14 and Michigan on Feb. 17. Senior Day will be on Feb. 28 against Minnesota. The Big Ten Women’s Tournament will also be at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse March 2-6.