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Big Ten championship game preview: No. 1-seed Maryland baseball vs. No. 3-seed Iowa

The Terps are seeking their first-ever conference tournament title.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

No. 1-seed Maryland baseball advanced to the Big Ten Tournament final for the first time since 2015 when it took down Nebraska on Saturday, 4-2.

It will now look to win its first-ever tournament title as they take on No. 3-seed Iowa in the Big Ten championship game Sunday.

Maryland has never won a conference tournament in its history, dating back to its time in the ACC.

The Terps will be the home team Sunday due to seeding.

Game information

Sunday, May 28, 3 p.m. ET, Charles Schwab Field, Omaha, Nebraska

TV: Big Ten Network

Streaming: FOX Sports App

How did they get here?

No. 1-seed Maryland Terrapins (40-19, 17-7 Big Ten)

The Terps are undefeated in the Big Ten Tournament thus far, taking down Michigan State before beating Nebraska in consecutive games.

The Terps rode impressive performances by junior right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool and fifth-year right-handed pitcher Kenny Lippman in the semifinals Saturday, before surviving a ninth-inning rally by the Huskers.

No. 3-seed Iowa Hawkeyes (42-13, 15-8 Big Ten)

The Hawkeyes are also unbeaten in the tournament, beating No. 6-seed Michigan and No. 2-seed Indiana. They took down the Wolverines for the second time in Saturday’s first semifinal, 5-0.

Head coach Rick Heller is looking to give Iowa its first conference tournament championship since 2017.

Iowa has one of the best pitching staffs in the nation, ranked second in batting average allowed, eighth in ERA and 15th in strikeouts. The Hawkeyes are likely to turn to sophomore right-handed pitcher Marcus Morgan, who has a 4.01 ERA on the year and a 25% strikeout rate.

The Hawkeyes offense is above-average, as it ranks 38th nationally in OPS. They’re led by graduate utility hitter Brennen Dorighi and sophomore Sam Petersen.

Iowa is missing one of its best hitters, though, Keaton Anthony, due to an investigation into alleged sports betting.

What happened last time

The Terps took two of three games against the Hawkeyes during the regular season to start Big Ten play, including a miraculous 10-9 comeback win in the Friday matchup.

Maryland won every Big Ten series since then, and holds two of Iowa’s three losses at home this season. The Hawkeyes performed well despite the series loss to the Terps, clinching the No. 3 seed in the conference.

Three things to watch

1. A battle for Maryland’s first-ever conference tourney title. Maryland made the championship game in its first season in the Big Ten, but hadn’t made it since. The Terps have never won a tournament title in program history, which includes 32 appearances in the ACC bracket before joining the Big Ten.

2. Who will get the start? Maryland is in a sticky situation in regards to who will start against a red-hot Iowa team. Freshman southpaw Kyle McCoy is still not 100%, and Savacool started Saturday. Senior right-handed pitcher Nick Dean could be a possible starter on Sunday, but he would only be on two days of rest. Sophomore right-handed reliever Ryan Van Buren opening the game is another option.

3. Postseason implications. Maryland and Iowa have most likely already clinched their spots in the NCAA Tournament, but a win in the title game guarantees a spot.

An Iowa win could bolster it to a No. 2 seed.

The road ahead

Win or lose, Maryland is a sure lock for the NCAA Tournament and will wait to hear its name called during Monday’s selection show. The Terps are widely projected to be a No. 2 seed, and most likely still won’t host a regional even if they win Sunday.