GAME THREAD: #14 IOWA VS #7 MARYLAND

By RossWB on February 17, 2019 at 11:09 am
go hawks go

@IowaWBB

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WHO: #7 Maryland Terrapins (23-2, 12-2 Big Ten) 
WHEN: 12:00 PM CT, Sunday, February 17, 2019
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
TV: ESPN2
ONLINE: WatchESPN
RADIO: Learfield Sports affiliates (check local listings)
ONLINE AUDIO: TuneIn

There's a compelling argument to be made that this is the biggest Iowa basketball game -- men's or women's -- in several years. That's because of the impact on the Big Ten standings that are tied to this game. Iowa is 11-3 and second-place in the Big Ten. Maryland is 12-2 and first in the league. If Iowa wins, the Hawkeyes and Terrapins will be tied for the league lead with three games to go. If both teams win their remaining three Big Ten games, they'd each win a share of the Big Ten regular season title. (Iowa would earn the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, due to their head-to-head win over Maryland.) If Maryland wins, they all but lock up the league title. They'd have a two-game lead on Iowa with three games to go, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage. For Iowa to have a chance at a Big Ten regular season title, this game is a must-win. 

And that's what makes this such a big game. The Iowa men haven't won or shared a Big Ten regular season title since 1979. The Iowa women haven't won or shared a Big Ten regular season title since 2008. And it's been rare that either team has had a chance as good as this one this late in the season. The Iowa men had a one-game lead in the Big Ten at this point on the calendar in 2016, but they also had five games to play (nearly one-third of the conference season). We know how that turned out, unfortunately. The Iowa women finished second in the league in 2015, but that was a very distant second -- Maryland won the league at 18-0 that year, while Iowa finished 14-4.

Ah yes, the Terrapins. Let's talk about that -- because that's the other thing that makes this such a big game for Iowa. It's fitting that Iowa's best chance at a Big Ten regular season title comes against the team that has absolutely dominated the Big Ten over the last five seasons. Iowa has been unable to solve the Terrapins since they joined the Big Ten. Iowa is 0-6 vs Maryland since they joined the Big Ten in 2014-15 and only one of the games has even been close. That was the first one, a 93-88 loss to Maryland in Iowa City. That game also happened to feature the best Iowa team until this season -- the Sam Logic-led Hawkeye squad that made the Sweet 16. All of Iowa's other losses to Maryland have been by at least 16 points. 

Of course, Iowa's not the only Big Ten team to have struggled with the Terps over the last five years; Maryland has owned the Big Ten since they joined the league. They've won or shared the league title in three of their first four seasons and they're also three-time Big Ten Tournament champions (and the only year they didn't win it, 2017-18, they were runners-up). Overall their record against Big Ten competition is 84-10 (73-9 in the regular season) over the last five years. Only six Big Ten teams have defeated them (Ohio State x3, Michigan State x2, Purdue, Minnesota, and Michigan). Which means Iowa is in the same boat as six other Big Ten squads in the "Never Beat Maryland Club." 

Today Iowa can leave that ignominious club. Today Iowa can seize control of their Big Ten destiny and put themselves one big step closer to claiming a Big Ten championship. Let's go, Hawks. 

The usual rules apply. 

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