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Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament preview - Top seeded Terps look to add tournament crown

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The Maryland Terrapins enter their first Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament as the top seed. Quarterfinal play begins Thursday morning and the University of Michigan is hosting the event for the first time since 2006. Here's what you need to know.

Todd Carton

You know you're getting old when you sit down to write this sentence: "The Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament gets under way Thursday morning." and it feels like it's been about a week since you wrote this one: "After talking soccer on Tuesday, I visited Maryland's campus in my not so secret identity - FHFAN - to talk about the Terps inaugural B1G field hockey season with coach Missy Meharg and seniors Brooke Cabrera and Katie Gerzabek." Nonetheless, we are at that point in the year where postseason play begins. And it begins with Maryland's field hockey team opening their first B1G Tournament against Ohio State at 10:00 Thursday morning.

We'll preview each of the quarterfinal games including how each team fared in their head to head contest with Maryland and against any common non-conference foes. Keep in mind that Maryland's only non-conference loss was to North Carolina. If you want to compare scores, Maryland's schedule is here.

When we show rankings, they are RPI as of November 4, 2014. Statistics are for all games.

Basic Information

WHAT: B1G Field Hockey Tournament

WHERE: Phyllis Ocker Field, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

WHEN: Quarterfinals begin Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

WHEN: Semifinals begin Friday, November 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

WHEN: Championship game Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm

WATCH: Quarterfinals: In person

WATCH: Semifinals: In person or on Big Ten Network

WATCH: Championship Game: In person or on Big Ten Network

STREAM: All games: BTN2GO.com

Quarterfinal games

GAME 1: Maryland vs. Ohio State - Regular season at Maryland: MD 6 OSU 0

Maryland Terrapins: Overall: 16-2 Big Ten: 7-1

Tournament Seed: 1

RPI: 2

Notable non-conference wins: #15 Northeastern; #14 Temple; #16 Old Dominion

Notable non-conference losses: #1 North Carolina

Record in last five games: 5-0

Record in overtime games: 0-0

Key players: Maxine Fluharty, Sarah Sprink, Anna Dessoye, Moira Putsch

Ohio State Buckeyes: Overall 6-11 Big Ten 1-7

Tournament Seed: 8

RPI: 34

Notable non-conference wins: #13 Virginia

Notable non-conference losses: #11 Louisville; # 18 Albany

Record in last five games: 2-3

Record in overtime games: 3-2

Versus Maryland: Lost at College Park 6-0

Versus common opponents: Miami (OH) 3-2

Key players: Maddie Humphrey; Peanut Johnson

The Terps handed the Buckeyes a 6-0 defeat in their regular season match in College Park. Ohio State is young and inconsistent particularly in goal where they start freshman Liz Tamburro. Maddie Humphrey, a strong contender for Freshman of the Year along with Maryland's Moira Putsch, leads Ohio State in goals and points and is seventh in the Big Ten in those categories. Senior playmaker Peanut Johnson is a capable scorer who has become more of a facilitator this season and is sixth in the conference in assists.

Maryland is an exceptionally balanced team with a dozen players who have scored at least two goals. The Terps have been a powerhouse on both ends of the field leading the B1G in scoring while also allowing the fewest goals. Play tends to slow down in the postseason so while Maryland may not match their regular season goal total, they should handle Ohio State and move on to face the winner of game two between Penn State and Michigan State.

Game 2: Penn State vs. Michigan State - Regular season at Michigan State: PSU 2 MSU 1

Penn State Nittany Lions: Overall: 14-4 Big Ten: 5-3

Tournament Seed: 4

RPI: 3

Notable non-conference wins: #14 Temple; #16 Old Dominion; #13 Virginia

Notable non-conference losses: #4 Connecticut

Record in last five games: 4-1

Record in overtime games: 0-2

Versus Maryland: Lost at College Park 4-3

Versus common opponents: at Drexel 5-0; at Temple 2-0; vs. Princeton 5-2

Key players: Taylor Herrold; Kylie Licata

Michigan State Spartans: Overall: 10-8 Big Ten: 4-4

Tournament Seed: 5

RPI: 19

Notable non-conference wins: None

Nptable non-conference losses: #7 Duke

Record in last five games: 3-2

Record in overtime games: 4-3

Versus Maryland: Lost at East Lansing 4-2

Versus common opponents: at American 0-1

Key player: Abby Barker

Ranked third in RPI, Penn State is probably the most daunting fourth seed in any conference postseason tournament. The Nittany Lions have played one of the most challenging non-conference schedules of any team in the country. They play a physcial brand of hockey and have been the only team to challenge Maryland since the Terps started their 11 game win streak. In the game at College Park, which Maryland won 4-3, Penn State held the Terps to just eleven shots and three penalty corners. The Nittany Lions feature the Big Ten's second leading goal scorer in Taylor Herrold and their goalie, Kylie Licata, leads the conference with a .788 save percentage.

Michigan State should be comfortable playing on the blue turf at Ocker Field. They are the only team other than Maryland to have beaten Michigan on their home turf - a 2-1 win that eliminated the Wolverines from a possible share of the conference title. The Spartans feature an outstanding player in senior forward Abby Barker who is tied for fifth in the conference in both goals and assists and is third in points.

Game 3: Michigan vs. Rutgers - Regular season at Michigan: Michigan 2 Rutgers 1

Michigan Wolverines: Overall: 12-6 Big Ten: 6-2

Tournament Seed: 2

RPI: 10

Notable non-conference wins: None

Notable non-conference losses: #1 North Carolina; #9 Wake Forest; #11 Louisville; #5 Stanford

Record in last five games: 3-2

Record in overtime games: 1-3

Versus Maryland: Lost at Ann Arbor 2-0

Versus common opponents: at North Carolina 1-5

Key players: Leslie Smith; Ainsley McCallister

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Overall: 9-9 Big Ten: 2-6

Tournament Seed: 7

RPI: 20

Notable non-conference wins: None

Notable non-conference losses: #14 Temple; #13 Virginia

Record in last five games: 3-2

Record in overtime games: 1-2

Versus Maryland: Lost at College Park 4-0

Versus common opponents: vs. Temple 1-6; vs. Penn 3-0

Key players: Katie Champion; Sophia Walia

First and foremost we must note that Michigan is the host school. They are 7-3 at home with their other losses coming in overtime to number five Stanford and to Michigan State. Michigan is a defensively oriented team has not conceded more than two goals in a game since the second game of the season when they followed their 5-1 loss at North Carolina by losing 3-2 to Wake Forest on the same field. Leslie Smith leads the Wolverines in goals with 12 and Ainsley McCallister is second in the conference in assists with 17 behind only the 20 assists dished out by Maryland's Katie Gerzabek.

Since their 4-0 loss at Maryland, the Scarlet Knights have won three straight taking down James Madison, Indiana, and Penn. They have shown themselves capable of competing with some of the better teams in the country losing overtime games at Virginia and at Northwestern. This game will be a rematch of the regular season contest also played in Ann Arbor when the Wolverines edged the Scarlet Knights 2-1. Junior forward Katie Champion has scored ten goals for Rutgers and is the only Scarlet Knights player in double figures in that category. Defender Sophia Walia is among the better backs in the Big Ten and is second on the team in goals scored.

Game 4: Northwestern vs. Iowa - Regular season at Iowa: Northwestern 3 Iowa 1

Northwestern Wildcats: Overall: 13-6 Big Ten: 6-2

Tournament Seed: 3

RPI: 12

Notable non-conference wins: None

Notable non-conference losses: #4 Connecticut; #11 Louisville; #9 Wake Forest; #5 Stanford

Record in last five games: 3-2

Record in overtime games: 3-1

Versus Maryland: Won in Evanston 3-2

Versus common opponents: at Miami (OH) 5-1

Key players: Dominique Masters; Maddie Carpenter

Iowa Hawkeyes: Overall: 11-6 Big Ten: 4-4

Tournament Seed: 6

RPI: 17

Notable non-conference wins: #9 Wake Forest; #5 Stanford; #13 Virginia

Notable non-conference losses: #1 North Carolina

Record in last five games: 3-2

Record in overtime games: 1-0

Versus Maryland: Lost at College Park 4-1

Versus common opponents: at North Carolina 1-4; vs. Miami (OH) 3-1

Key players: Natalie Cafone; Stephanie Norlander

The Northwestern Wildcats handed Maryland their only loss in conference play and were the last team to defeat the Terps. They saw a six game winning streak end with a 2-1 loss to Stanford in a game played in Ann Arbor. Just a week later, Northwestern lost to Michigan making them 0-2 on the blue turf of Ocker Field this season. The Wildcats finished the season with three losses in their final seven games that included the 2-1 loss at Penn State that opened the door for Maryland to claim the outright title. Dominique Masters is one of three Wildcats who have scored double digit goals this season. She has a team leading 12 goals while Isabel Flens and Caroline Troncelliti each have ten. Between the pipes, Maddy Carpenter has rung up four shutouts and her 1.29 goals against average is second only to Maryland's Brooke Cabrera.

With an average of 3.16 goals per game, the Iowa Hawkeyes are the Big Ten's second highest scoring team albeit a distant second to the 4.39 scored by Maryland. As they demonstrated in their 4-0 shutout of Penn State, they are more than capable of putting together a complete and dominating performance. They are led by two dynamic scorers - junior forward Natalie Cafone and sophomore forward Stephanie Norlander. The two have combined for 33 goals thus far this season. Cafone, who joined the U.S. National Team this year leads the Big Ten with 18 goals and Terrapins head coach Missy Meharg calls her a world class player.