No. 2 seed Maryland (23-6, 12-4 Big Ten) vs. No. 7 Indiana (17-13, 9-7)
When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Site: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
TV/Video: Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, BTN2Go
Series: Maryland leads 5-0
What's at stake: For the first time since joining the Big Ten Conference in 2014, the Terps enter the league tournament without at least a share of the regular-season title. More urgently, they also begin postseason play without a home game in the NCAA tournament assured. Only the selection committee’s top 16 seeds earn the right to host opening-weekend games in the Big Dance; as of Thursday, Maryland was a No. 5 seed in ESPN.com’s latest bracket projection. To return to College Park after the Big Ten tournament, the Terps need to make a run in Indianapolis. If chalk holds in the tournament, Maryland would have a chance to add wins against three teams ranked in the top 60 in the Rating Percentage Index: the Hoosiers (No. 54), No. 3 seed Nebraska (No. 63) and No. 1 seed Ohio State (No. 6). A fourth straight Big Ten tournament crown would be nice, but coach Brenda Frese might prefer an eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance in College Park.
Key matchup: Maryland’s defense against Indiana senior guard Tyra Buss. A three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, Buss scored at least 27 points in five of her final nine regular-season games, including a combined 73 in back-to-back upsets of Nebraska and Minnesota. The Hoosiers’ Jan. 16 loss at Maryland was a different story. Not only did Buss finish with just 14 points and four turnovers, she also took just 13 field-goal attempts, tied for her third fewest in Big Ten play. Credit the sticky defense of Terps sophomore wing Kaila Charles, who's long enough (6 feet 1) to bother Buss’ outside shooting (35.4 percent) and agile enough to stay in front of her. Buss played all 60 minutes in Indiana’s quadruple-overtime win Thursday against No. 10 seed Michigan State — the longest game in tournament history — so there might not be much gas left in the tank.
Player to watch: Eleanna Christinaki enters the Big Ten tournament in maybe the worst slump of her career. After shooting 43.3 percent over her freshman and shortened sophomore seasons at Florida, the junior wing is down to 37.7 percent from the field with the Terps. Maryland doesn’t have many options off the bench; the team can’t afford to have one of its higher-usage players also be among its least efficient.