Maryland has just three games left before the Big Ten Tournament gets underway in nearby Washington D.C.
After back-to-back losses to Minnesota and Wisconsin, it’s never been more clear how badly the Terrapins need that double-bye to start off the tournament.
The story throughout much of the season was Maryland’s three very talented freshmen. Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson have been nothing short of sensation and there was rarely a game where one of the three didn’t show up in a big way.
However, it’s been evident during the Terps’ two-game losing streak that these three are hitting that freshman wall. Obviously, the collegiate schedule is a lot more grueling than what they’ve faced at the high school level.
Both Cowan and Huerter are playing over 29 minutes every night while Jackson is logging nearly 28. On top of that, these star freshmen are being expected to be some of the top producers on the Maryland roster.
Lately, the results have definitely showed.
Over the last two games, Cowan has only made five of his 20 field goal attempts for a grand total of 15 points. He has also only attempted four free throws.
It’s been a similar story for Huerter. The New York native has connected on just 4-of-14 shots while making just three of his nine attempts from beyond the arc.
Jackson isn’t lighting the world on fire, but he has hit three of last six three-point attempts. Overall, he’s connected on 5-of-15 shots over the last two games.
With the freshmen not producing at their normal level, Melo Trimble has been forced to carry the scoring load. In two of the last three games, he’s been able to satisfy with 32 and 27 points respectively against the likes of Northwestern and Wisconsin.
However, when Trimble isn’t hitting his shots from the perimeter, he needs help from his teammates. In Wednesday’s game, there were three other Terps that finished in double figures.
Forward Ivan Bender was the only one that actually shot the ball well. Bender scored a career-high 15 points (7-of-10 shooting) and grabbed five rebounds in the 89-75 loss.
Maryland had no success shooting from the perimeter. As a team, the Terps shot just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from beyond the arc and Jaylen Brantley was the only player to make multiple threes.
Part of that did have to do with the fact that Minnesota only surrenders 30.0 percent of their opponents’ threes to go down. The Golden Gophers did give a strong defensive effort, but the Terps also missed a handful of shots that they normally convert.
Simply put: Maryland needs the double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
If the Terps are one of the top four seeds, they’ll have Wednesday and Thursday off, which is the first two days of the tournament. Travel also won’t be an issue for Maryland since they’ll right up the road from the Nation’s Capital.
Maryland’s final regular season game takes place on Sunday, March 5. A double-bye would mean that the Terps would get four days off to rest after they face Michigan State, which just so happens to be a home game.
If Maryland can obtain the double-bye, it’ll go a long way towards a potential Big Ten Tournament championship and a longer NCAA Tournament run.