The Terps came out flat and never really got back in it. After the score was tied at 14 with 7:51 left in the first half, the Cornhuskers started to take hold of the game. Maryland would go into the locker room down 12, and there wasn’t enough offense or enough stops in the second half to make up the deficit. The closest the Terps would get in the final minutes was within six points before a backbreaking three by James Palmer Jr. pretty much wrapped it up.
With a third straight one-and-done performance in the conference tournament, the Terps will have to wait three days before they find out where they’re seeded in the NCAA Tournament. This showing did them no favors. The Terps came out with a lack of effort and got blown out by Penn State down the stretch; this loss felt worse.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly of Maryland’s tournament showing:
The good: This won’t impact Maryland’s shot at making the tournament
Luckily for the Terps, they came to Chicago a lock for the NCAA Tournament, projected as a No. 5 seed by most bracketologists. As disappointing and underwhelming this outcome is, that won’t change. It has the potential to, at worst, drop the Terps from a projected No. 5 to No. 6 seed.
This is the time where Maryland is lucky it did its work in the regular season. The Terps have just one “bad loss” on their record: a neutral site loss to Illinois, that became a Quadrant 3 loss after the Illini recently dropped out of the NET top-100.
The bad: pretty much the whole damn game
I don’t even know where to start. Maryland came out of the gates looking unprepared for a fight. Nebraska ran with just seven players, and the Huskers’ top three had played 40, 40 and 39 minutes Wednesday night against Rutgers. The trio of James Palmer Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaiah Roby still had enough in the tank to end the Terps’ tournament run, scoring 58 of Nebraska’s 69.
An aggressive trapping scheme took Bruno Fernando out of the equation and kept him frustrated for the entire game. Anthony Cowan Jr. had just a single point at the half and two early fouls had him benched during a crucial period in the first half. Fernando would never find a way to be effective in this one, finishing with just three points, all on a single and-one in the first half. Cowan came on strong at the end to finish with a team-high 18, but it was too little, too late. Darryl Morsell had 11 second-half points and finished second on the team with 14, but had some lapses while guarding Palmer that made it hard for the Terps to truly come back.
The ugly: Maryland’s Big Ten tournament record
It’s now been five seasons since Maryland joined the Big Ten. It’s been a top-four seed at the Big Ten tournament in three of those, and top-five in four. The Terps have won just two games in that span, sporting a 2-5 record in the event. It’s now been three straight seasons that Maryland has gone one-and-done in the tournament, a losing streak that started against Northwestern while the event was being held in its backyard at the then-Verizon Center.
Maryland hasn’t been able to shake it since, losing a close one to Wisconsin last year at Madison Square Garden, then laying an egg against Nebraska this time. Mark Turgeon has to hope this squad can pull out a win or two in the tournament, not only to win its first postseason game since 2016, but also to make sure his seat doesn’t warm up heading into next season.