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B1G Soccer Quarterfinal preview - Terps to face Rutgers or Wisconsin

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The Big Ten Champion Maryland Terrapins men's soccer squad makes their B1G Tournament debut Sunday at Ludwig Field in College Park. The Terps will face the winner of Saturday's game between eighth seed Rutgers and ninth seed Wisconsin.

LS

A bit of an introduction

Those readers among you who have both been paying attention and have reasonably good memories, might recall that in my preview of Maryland men's soccer's game with Rutgers I wrote that a Terrapins win would make the Terps Big Ten Champions but that with a loss or tie Maryland could finish anywhere from second to fifth so jumbled and compressed were the B1G standings. Maryland's win not only gave them the title, it meant their quarterfinal match would be either with the team against whom they had garnered their first Big Ten win, Wisconsin, or an immediate rematch with Rutgers. Rutgers and Wisconsin will play Saturday afternoon in College Park for the right to meet Maryland in a quarterfinal match up on Sunday. As the top seed, Maryland will host each game that they play in the tournament.

Meanwhile, back in the Big Ten, Penn State had completed its season accumulating 15 points by virtue of their 5-3 record. In addition to Maryland and Rutgers, the remaining six teams also had a conference game to play Wednesday night. When play started on the fifth of November, the B1G Conference standings looked like this:

 

Team

Record

Points

Penn State

5-3

15

Maryland

4-2-1

13

Northwestern

3-1-3

12

Ohio State

4-3

12

Michigan State

3-2-2

11

Indiana

3-2-2

11

Michigan

3-2-2

11

Rutgers

1-5-5

4

Wisconsin

0-6-1

1

 

By the time play ended, the final conference standings looked like this:

Team

Record

Points

Maryland

5-2-1

16

Ohio State

5-3

15

Northwestern

4-1-3

15

Penn State

5-3

15

Michigan State

4-2-2

14

Indiana

3-3-2

11

Michigan

3-3-2

11

Rutgers

1-6-5

4

Wisconsin

0-7-1

1

 

The three teams that tied for second split their games with one another. The final standings reflect the tournament seedings.

If Maryland plays Wisconsin

After the squads met on September 28th, their seasons would follow very different trajectories although that wasn't immediately apparent. The Terps won that game 2-0 improving to 3-3-2 while the loss dropped the Badgers to 1-5-1. Maryland dropped their next two games to Georgetown and Northwestern but haven't lost since - winning eight straight to finish 11-5-2 while Wisconsin managed only two more wins both against in-state rivals - Milwaukee and Green Bay - and finished their season 3-11-3. The Badgers picked up their only conference point in the season's next to last game by playing to a surprising 2-2 tie with Indiana.

Scoring challenged

Early in the season, this phrase certainly applied to Maryland. However, beginning with their shutout loss at Maryland, Wisconsin has scored only eight goals over the 11 games they've played and they have scored just 18 goals for the season. In Big Ten play, their goal total is seven.

Road challenged

Here's a math problem. In the 2014 soccer season, Wisconsin played 10 home games to a less than impressive record of 3-4-3. They finished the season 3-11-3. What was their record away from Madison? If you answered 0-7-0, reward yourself with a drink. None of those games were at neutral sites.

Feeling good about yourselves? Then here's your next poser. In the 2014 soccer season, Wisconsin scored 18 goals. They scored 14 of those 18 goals at McClimon Soccer Complex in Madison. How many goals did the Badgers score in road games? If you answered four, have a second drink.

Last question. If half of Wisconsin's road goals came in games at George Mason and at Georgetown, how many goals did they score in their four conference road games? The answer is equal to the number of drinks I've encouraged you to have for solving the first two problems.

Who might score for the Badgers

Who knows. Mark Segbers and Tom Barlow have each scored four goals. That's 44 percent of Wisconsin's season total. So an educated guess would point to one of those two. However, all but one of their goals have come in home games and that lone road goal that Segbers scored came more than two months ago at George Mason.

If Maryland plays Rutgers

Should they meet on Sunday, nearly a month and a half and ten games will have passed since Maryland last faced Wisconsin. If Rutgers emerges as the winner of their game with the Badgers  Saturday three days will have passed and Maryland won't have played a game. Rutgers, on the other hand will have played a game perhaps conferring an additional advantage to the better rested Terps.

In terms of what fans can expect from Rutgers if the Terps have to face the Scarlet Knights, I refer you to the preview I wrote for that game. Then simply add to it that the Terps Will Likely face a somewhat tired squad that will be playing its second game in less than 24 hours. And there should be little need to remind you that Maryland won 3-2 in Piscataway.

However, on Maryland's side

When the Terps review the game film from Wednesday's win at Rutgers, there is a high probability that they will focus on their play in the defensive half. While the Scarlet Knights' second goal came with just 55 seconds to play and the game more or less in hand for Maryland, both goals resulted from some careless play in the box by the Terrapins' defense. Coach Cirovski was unlikely to inhibit the celebration of a championship Wednesday night but he will have had his team focus on their defensive effort in preparing for either opponent.

Watching the game(s)

Of course, the preferred choice to see the game is to head over Ludwig Field and take it in live. However, we know that's not possible even for all of you who live near College Park. If you can't make it for any reason, you can watch Maryland's or any of the other quarterfinal games except Ohio State vs. Michigan on BTN Plus. The Big Ten has not indicated that the matches will be streamed. All the games start Sunday at 1:00 pm.