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Maryland women's basketball preview: Terps look to win the Big Ten tournament once again

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A huge weekend for the Terps, who can secure an easier path to a long NCAA Tournament run.

After winning the regular-season Big Ten championship once again, Maryland women’s basketball is the top seed in this week’s conference tournament. The No. 6 Terps ride into Indianapolis with a 27-3 record and a six-game winning streak. They walloped Minnesota by 33 points on Sunday to clinch first place alone.

Maryland’s first postseason game is Friday at noon against ninth-seeded Iowa (19-12, 9-10 Big Ten). The Hawkeyes knocked off No. 8 Michigan, 97-85, on Thursday afternoon. Freshman center Megan Gustafson led Iowa with 25 points and 10 boards. Junior guard Ally Disterhoft notched 22 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while sophomore forward Chase Coley posted a 20-10-6. The two teams previously faced one another in Iowa City on Jan. 10, with the Terps cruising to a 76-56 victory.

Should the Terps win, they will face either No. 4 Indiana, No. 5 Minnesota or No. 12 Northwestern in Saturday’s first semifinal. That game will be at 3 p.m. EST, and a win would launch them into the championship game Sunday at 7:00 p.m. EST. The final will be broadcast on ESPN, while the others can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

The general expectation that Maryland and Ohio State will square off in the final, but both teams have to win twice for that to happen. The Buckeyes are on the same side of the bracket as Michigan State, which held them off in triple-overtime Saturday.

NCAA Tournament Implications

As I wrote in today’s Roundtable, this is a huge weekend for the Terps. The selection committee for the Women’s NCAA Tournament ranked them No. 8 on Monday, which translates to being the 2-seed in UConn’s regional. The Huskies, of course, are the collegiate equivalent of the First Order (Geno is Snoke, Stewart is Kylo Ren and Jefferson is Floor General Hux), so it’s highly beneficial to stay out of their way for as long as possible. Here are the rankings released on Monday:

Baylor thumped Texas 74-48 on Monday, essentially securing a 1-seed in the dance. The top four teams have a combined three losses all year, with Notre Dame and South Carolina only falling to UConn. The No. 5 overall seed will probably go to the Pac-12 champ, assuming either Arizona State or Oregon State wins the conference tournament, but the Terps will likely grab No. 6 with three wins this weekend.

If they don’t win the Big Ten tournament, however, it could get complicated. They could fall behind Texas, a second Pac-12 team (which could also be UCLA or Stanford depending on how things shake out in Seattle) and perhaps Ohio State. That would put them on the 3-line, which they would probably like to avoid, as well.

If that was a little too nerdy for you, just know that a tournament title this weekend gives Maryland a much easier road to its third straight Final Four appearance.