A year ago, Maryland went into the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament off an emotional win over Michigan State that the Terps earned on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by then-junior guard Melo Trimble. It helped quiet some of the questions about the team’s late season slide.
Trimble’s last big shot as a college player didn’t help turn around the Terps, who lost their opening game in the Big Ten tournament to Northwestern as well as their round-of-64 game in the NCAA tournament to Xavier.
Maryland (19-12, 8-10) now has to hope that its deflating 85-61 loss Saturday at home to No. 17 Michigan — the most lopsided defeat at home since Xfinity Center opened in 2002 — will have the opposite effect in this year’s Big Ten tournament.
The Terps, whose recent two-game winning streak had followed a stretch of seven defeats in 10 games, will be the No. 8 seed at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where they will face No. 9 seed Wisconsin (14-17, 7-11) on Thursday at noon.
Already upset and frustrated about Friday’s revelation that former Maryland player Diamond Stone was one of 25 college and high school players to have taken improper payments from an agent, Terps coach Mark Turgeon’s mood darkened considerably.
It was the worst home loss in Turgeon’s seven years at Maryland, and reminiscent of the blowout defeats at both then-No. 1 Michigan State (91-61) and at Ohio State (91-69) in January.
Turgeon made it clear to his team, and later in a postgame news conference, that he was more at fault than anyone else for his team’s embarrassing performance, especially in the first half, when the Terps were outscored by 30.
“I said [to the team], ‘I’m going to take all the blame today because we were terrible and obviously it starts with me,’ ” Turgeon said. “We’re going to take tomorrow off and come Monday, if I see any quit in anybody, I’m going to run the crap out of you.
“We’re going to work on us for two days, stay confident. It’s never as good as you think; it’s never as bad you think. It’s one game. These guys have competed. They’ve been through a lot; it just wasn’t our day. We’ll come back Monday and work and hopefully by noon on Thursday we’ll be ready to go.”
A year ago in the Big Ten tournament, the Terps played what was essentially a home game at Verizon Center in Washington. Maryland came out flat, then recovered to take a 10-point lead early in the second half, only to lose after a 16-2 run by the Wildcats.
Although the Badgers do not appear to be headed to the NCAA tournament, as Northwestern was for the first time in school history last season, they are playing a lot better than they were when they lost to Maryland, 68-63, at Xfinity Center on Feb. 4.
It was the only meeting this season between the teams.
When Maryland beat Wisconsin, it was the fifth straight loss and eighth in nine games for the Badgers. Since then, Wisconsin has won four of six, including a 57-53 win over then-No. 6 Purdue in Madison.
Even in Sunday’s loss at home to No. 2 Michigan State, the Badgers showed the kind of grit and resolve that were missing Saturday for Maryland. Trailing by 10 in the first half, Wisconsin took the Spartans down to the final minute before losing 68-63.
Maryland’s loss to the Wolverines ends any discussion there had been that the Terps might still have a chance to get to the NCAA tournament without winning the Big Ten tournament as long as they reached the final in New York.
Given that Maryland hasn’t won even two in a row in nearly two months — while the Spartans, who clinched the Big Ten title Sunday, await the winner of Thursday’s game between the Terps and Badgers — it seems the only realistic postseason option is the National Invitation Tournament.
“This team is not going to just quit. I won’t going to allow it,” said sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr., who finished with 17 points and eight assists Saturday. “We’re just going to come back whenever we practice and just keep getting better.”
The game Thursday might have a different feel than when Maryland was coming off blowouts earlier in the Big Ten season.
In both instances — beating Iowa at home after the Michigan State game and then losing in the last seconds at Michigan after the Ohio State game — the Terps showed a lot more than they did against the Wolverines on Saturday.
Asked whether it will be tougher to put what happened on senior day in the past by the time Maryland reaches the Garden, sophomore guard Kevin Huerter said: “Not too much. ... We’ve got to find a way to put this behind us.”