Who? Maryland Terrapins (26-5 (14-4), #32 KenPom) v. Indiana Hoosiers (19-12 (9-9), #53 KenPom)
When? Friday, March 13, 6:30 PM EDT, BTN
Vegas? MARYLAND -2
Pomeroy? MARYLAND by 2, 47% chance of Indiana victory
Life on the Bubble
Indiana's tournament hopes were likely secured with their double-digit win over Northwestern last night and are now playing for seed, with a chance to elevate themselves out of the First Four and into the traditional field. In fact, that may have already happened thanks to the implosion of the tournament bubble, as multiple hopefuls needing victories simply couldn't make it happen. Illinois, Miami, Texas, Texas A&M, Old Dominion, among others, all lost yesterday while Indiana cruised to victory.
I think if Selection Sunday were today, Indiana is probably opening up on Tuesday or Wednesday in Dayton but a win over Maryland would change that.
Terps Part III
Maryland just joined the Big Ten this year but it's a squad Hoosiers fans are now quite familiar with after two meetings during the regular season, an eighteen-point win in Assembly Hall and a two-point loss on the road. Of the top four seeds, I would imagine the vast majority of Indiana fans would pick Maryland as their choice to play a quarterfinal game in a neutral venue against. Maryland is a very good team, but basketball is a game of matchups and Indiana matches up far better with Maryland (and Michigan State) than Wisconsin or Purdue. I give the edge to Maryland for "best matchup" because Indiana actually played them well twice.
It certainly won't be easy, as Dez Wells is playing the best ball of his career and Maryland is certainly gelling as a team, rattling off seven straight victories, the first of which being their two-point victory over Indiana in which Yogi Ferrell's on-line three-pointer at the buzzer rattled out. Indiana can't afford any fatigue from yesterday's game to affect them tonight, and the likely loss of Hanner Mosquera-Perea will mean more minutes for Collin Hartman and Emmit Holt. Perea suffered a likely aggravation of his previous kneed injury when he collided with Alex Olah after Northwestern's big man flopped to the floor in an effort to draw a charge on Robert Johnson, a man roughly half his size, which he successfully did. It was by no means a dirty play, but serves as another reminder that flopping is dumb and should never be done. Hanner's knee brace could have saved his season, but I'd be surprised to see him out there tonight.
On a lighter note: I think there's a great chance that Maryland / Indiana becomes a great new Big Ten rivalry with some story lines already in place thanks to tournament results we don't need to go in depth about and a split of their first two conference meetings. A neutral-court rubber match in the Big Ten Tournament will only serve to stoke that fire. I'm sure Maryland fans are not happy about seeing Yogi Ferrell again, who has been sensational in his two games against the Terrapins, and if James Blackmon Jr. can build on last night's performance, the best of his young career, and not repeat his last performance against the Terps (2-14, 0-5 3PT) the Hoosiers should be fine offensively. As always, it will come down to whether or not they can get enough stops. The defense looked better against Northwestern, but Maryland is a whole other beast with multiple scoring threats both in the starting lineup and coming off the bench.
Should Indiana win, they will play the winner of Ohio State / Michigan State on Saturday.