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As Big Ten struggles continue, Terps hope to avoid trend vs. Oklahoma State

The Terps men's basketball team hopes to avoid the Big Ten struggles when it plays at Oklahoma State on Sunday.
The Terps men's basketball team hopes to avoid the Big Ten struggles when it plays at Oklahoma State on Sunday. (Evan Habeeb, USA Today Sports)

In automotive terms, Big Ten basketball in the last few seasons has been the steady, reliable car that you rarely had to take in for repairs.

Considering that the last Big Ten team to win a national championship was Maryland -- as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference -- in 2002, it wasn't the flashiest or fastest car on the college basketball landscape.

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Just very solid and dependable.

But in a season when Big Ten cars, uh, teams, have had a number of embarrassing mishaps, Saturday might have been the day when the manufacturers finally sent out the recall notices. Michigan continues to gush oil. Michigan State showed how it couldn't play without one of its major parts broken. And you might want to check Ohio State's VIN to see if the Buckeyes are really who they claim to be.

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Is Maryland the next team from the Big Ten to find itself being towed back to the shop?

It's interesting that the No. 17 Terps, one of only two Big Ten teams to have beaten a ranked opponent this season, are 7 1/2-point underdogs at Oklahoma State on Sunday. Sure, the Cowboys haven't lost at Gallagher-Iba Arena this season, yet the last I checked Marcus Smart is in the NBA and the team he left behind lost at South Carolina on Dec. 6 by 26 points.

Either the gamblers don't believe in Mark Turgeon's team -- despite a 10-1 record that includes a very impressive win last month over then-No. 13 Iowa State in what was essentially a road game -- or the Big Ten's collective mediocrity is starting to seep into how they make their wagers.

You might remember that the night the Terps beat Iowa State, Dez Wells was playing with one good hand after breaking his right wrist early in the game. And a note to those betting late against Turgeon: he was 2-2 at Oklahoma State in four years at Texas A&M.

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If you were Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Saturday, you might been better off at a local mall in suburban Chicago finishing off some Christmas shopping than at the United Center for the first CBS Sports Classic, where his alma mater, No. 24 North Carolina, toyed with the No. 12 Buckeyes in the opener. Ohio State has now looked overmatched against the two ranked teams it has faced, the Tar Heels and Louisville.

I hope that Delany had something better to do later in the day -- like get stuck in that notorious Chicago traffic -- than catch Michigan lose its fourth straight game -- and third straight at Crisler Arena.

At least this one was to Southern Methodist, which had been ranked earlier this season before losing to Indiana, and not to New Jersey Institute of Technology or Eastern Michigan. Coppin State, you could be the next team to put a hurting on the Wolverines on Monday night.

I hope Delany was at a Christmas party where the hosts didn't get ESPNU on their television so he didn't have to watch No. 25 Michigan State, playing its first game without injured power forward Branden Dawson, lose to a Texas Southern team coached by former Indiana coach Mike Davis. The Spartans were lucky to get to overtime, where they completely self-destructed.

Interesting trivia note on that game: Davis had never won at the Breslin Center while coaching at Indiana.

Speaking of the Hoosiers, they were one of two bright spots for the Big Ten on Saturday, using a strong second half run to pull away from No. 23 Butler in Indianapolis. The other positive note on another long afternoon for the Big Ten was Illinois, which beat archrival Missouri in their annual December showdown on a 3-pointer by Rayvonte Rice at the buzzer.

Which brings us to Sunday in Stillwater, Okla., where the Terps are hoping to rip up that Big Ten recall notice that seemingly has their names on it.

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