Northwestern basketball is in a tough place right now. After two incredibly disheartening losses to Rutgers and Michigan State, the Northwestern Wildcats (15-13, 6-9 B1G) have quick turnaround before facing the Maryland Terrapins (18-11, 7-9 B1G). These two teams last met ten days ago in College Park. Maryland pulled away after Northwestern’s offense fell apart in the second half to win 73-57.
Maryland could have theoretically vaulted itself back onto the NCAA Tournament bubble after that win, but the Terps lost a close one in Lincoln to put them back at 6-9 and firmly out of the discussion. Maryland earned a comfortable 61-51 home win over Rutgers on Saturday, but it’s Rutgers. Not that we can even make fun of Rutgers anymore. Sighhhhh.
Anyway, it would be nice if Northwestern won this game. I would enjoy that. Bryant McIntosh will probably not be back to full strength two days after missing the Michigan State with an injury. His status is still up in the air. Backup point guard Jordan Ash is out for the season, so Northwestern might have to roll out another strange lineup. Anthony Gaines played 37 minutes in the last game and looked much improved, so maybe it’s good that the young guns are gaining some useful Big Ten experience.
Everything we said about Maryland in the last game still holds true. The Terps are a talented team beset by injuries that can shoot the lights out. Maryland can also have moments of complete ineptitude on both sides of the ball. Maryland is actually No. 41 on KenPom right now (significantly better than Northwestern at 79), but it is 2-6 in games decided by 10 points or less in conference play after the traditional start to the season in late December (a.k.a. after everyone got injured).
Personally, even if Northwestern loses, I just don’t want anything embarrassing to happen. Not again. Obviously, because this is Northwestern, we will lose on a 75-foot buzzer beater in double overtime. Also, Northwestern is favored by Vegas! Can you believe that?
Game Time: 6 p.m. CST
Streaming: FOX Sports Go
Radio: WGN 720
KenPom prediction: 67-66, Maryland (48 percent chance of NU winning)
Betting line: Northwestern -1.5, O/U 133
Last meeting: Maryland 73, Northwestern 57 (February 10th, 2018)