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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Rutgers preview (round 2)

The Terps will look to sweep the season series with the Scarlet Knights.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 01 Women's - Rutgers at Maryland Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Maryland women’s basketball ends its three-game road trip Sunday with a visit to Rutgers. Tipoff is scheduled for noon ET and the game will be broadcast on BTN.

The Terps avenged their only loss in Big Ten play by defeating Michigan State in East Lansing Thursday. Maryland is now 21-3 overall and 10-1 in the league, and leads Ohio State by 1.5 games for first place in the conference.

Sunday’s rematch is another opportunity for the Terps to put another quality win on their NCAA tournament resume. Maryland is basically a lock to make the tournament, so any wins down the stretch just strengthen its case to host the first weekend. Rutgers is No. 18 in RPI, and the Terps have five wins against the RPI Top 50 and three against the RPI Top 25.

Maryland has not looked great away from home this season, but is undefeated on the road in the Big Ten so far.

What happened last time

Maryland blew past Rutgers on Feb. 1, carving up the Scarlet Knights’ highly-touted defense in an 88-60 win. The Terps shot 59 percent from the field and turned the game into a rout in the third quarter.

(Here’s the preview and gamer from the first meeting.)

The Terps haven’t traveled to Piscataway since Feb. 21, 2016, when they defeated Rutgers 73-59 thanks to strong first-half defense and 21 points from Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.

What’s happened since

In the nine days since the first meeting, Maryland has won both its games, while Rutgers split with Michigan and Ohio State. The big differences for the Scarlet Knights in those games were offensive efficiency and forcing turnovers. They shot 49 percent from the field and forced 26 turnovers against the Wolverines, while they shot 39 percent and only forced 12 turnovers in a blowout loss against the Buckeyes.

Rutgers is now 18-8 and 6-6 in the Big Ten. A win over Maryland would get the Scarlet Knights closer to locking up an NCAA Tournament berth.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland get off to another fast start? Rutgers loves to slow it down and keep the game close, so putting them in an early hole makes it much harder for the Scarlet Knights to come back. In their last two losses, both Maryland and Ohio State had double-digit leads at halftime.

2. Does Kaila Charles hold Tyler Scaife in check in again? Charles has held the opposing team’s leading scorer in check time and time again this year, and will definitely guard Scaife again on Sunday. She held the Big Ten’s sixth-leading scorer to 3-of-15 shooting in the first meeting.

3. Will Maryland play a 40-minute game on the road? It looked like the Terps would finally cruise to a road win against a Big Ten team not named Wisconsin, but Michigan State cut a 19-point third quarter lead down to five in the final minute of the game. Rutgers is 13-1 at home this year, so odds are this will be another close game.