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Crimson Query with Testudo Times, Part 3

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Alex Kirshner from Maryland SB Nation blog Testudo Times is back again to answer another round of questions as IU takes on Maryland for the third time this season. We discuss what went right for the Terps the last time the Hoosiers played them, Maryland's penchant for winning close games, and how far the Terps could go in the NCAA tournament.

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1. Here we go again. After splitting home games with each other, the Hoosiers and Terps now face off at a neutral site. What was the key to Maryland's 68-66 victory over the Hoosiers in College Park on February 11?

Alex: Honestly? Good fortune. That game was as close to a draw as any Maryland's played all year, and it came down to Yogi Ferrell only being brilliant for 39 minutes and 52 seconds instead of a full 40 minutes. Maryland's offense clicked a little bit, but Troy Williams and Ferrell were both dominant, and it was a fun little back-and-forth.

2. Including that second Indiana game, Maryland has won their last seven, each game by a margin of 10 points or fewer. What has been the key to winning these close games for Maryland?

Alex: Good fortune, again. The Terps have a couple of things going for them that tend to help them in close games: They're arguably the best foul-shooting team in the country when you factor in both free throw frequency and success. Melo Trimble hit the most free throws of any player in major college basketball this year. That tends to help at the end of games. It also helps that the team's best players, Trimble and Dez Wells, are guards. At the end of college games, guards tend to use almost all of their team's possessions, and, to that effect, Trimble and Wells have saved Maryland on a number of occasions. But Maryland is 10-0 in games decided by six points or fewer, and there's no way to slice that other than to admit the Terps have been hugely lucky. That's not a repeatable skill, no matter how "clutch" a team claims to be.

3. And the Terps beat Wisconsin, which is pretty cool. How'd Maryland pull that one off?

Alex: Maryland was pretty lucky that night, too. Wisconsin has the best offense in college basketball, but the entire team went cold on three-pointers and ultra-efficient guards Josh Gasser and Bronson Koenig both had their worst games of the competitive season. That isn't to detract from Maryland, which played a legitimately great game and did some of the best work anybody's done in handling Frank Kaminsky around the basket. But even playing a great game isn't enough to beat Wisconsin if the Badgers are clicking. Maryland earned that win but still needed a lot to go right for it to happen.

And there was this! That was fun. 

4. What's the outlook for this team in terms of NCAA Tournament seeding this year, and how far do you think they can go?

Alex: Maryland is almost certainly ticketed for the third seed in the East region and an opening-round weekend in Pittsburgh. That would be a good spot, and I can't see the Terps falling out of the top 12 overall seeds on the selection committee's list. The only way Maryland moves to a No. 2 seed, if I'm guessing, is by winning the Big Ten Tournament. That could happen, but it's hard to expect.

I see Maryland as a Sweet 16 team, but it wouldn't be all that surprising if someone knocked the Terps off during the opening weekend. They've played so many mediocre games against horrible teams and just slinked by, and I get the feeling they could pay for it if they deliver a similar showing against, say, a No. 6 seed in the Round of 32. 

5. Prediction: Who wins the rubber match between Indiana and Maryland this year?

You might recall that I'm 0 for 2 in calling games for Crimson Quarry this year. I had Maryland winning in Bloomington back in January, and I had the Hoosiers when Maryland evened things up a few weeks later. So the only thing I'm sure of is that you shouldn't care what I think.

With that said: Maryland 70, Indiana 69. Only because Wells and Trimble have a lot going for them.

Enjoy the game, Hoosiers.

Thanks again, Alex! The Terps and Hoosiers square off for a third time this season tonight at 6:30pm. Coverage will be on BTN.