Maryland Basketball: Michigan win gives Terps share of first-ever Big Ten title

No. 9 Maryland basketball 24-7 (14-6 Big Ten) secured a Big Ten championship thanks to major contributions from key players in the win over the No. 25 Michigan Wolverines 19-12 (10-10 Big Ten).

The Maryland basketball season finale ended on a high note in College Park against the Michigan Wolverines on Senior Night. Anthony Cowan Jr., Will Clark and Travis Valmon were honored during the game. Former Maryland players Kevin Huerter, Bruno Fernando and Torrey Smith were on hand for senior night. National champion head coach and Naismith Hall of Famer Gary Williams was in attendance as well.

Inside Maryland Sports’ Jeff Ermann broke down the Big Ten regular-season share scenarios and Big Ten Tournament seeding.

If Maryland and Michigan State win, the three-way tie would give Wisconsin the No. 1 seed, an unthinkable result a month ago, when the Badgers were in the middle of the Big Ten’s pack and Maryland was in the middle of a nine-game winning streak.

Wisconsin has also clinched the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament, largely thanks to its last-second win over Maryland in mid-January, when the Terps led but turned the ball over in the final 20 seconds and lost on Brad Davison’s late 3-pointer. If Michigan State loses tomorrow and Maryland wins, the Terps would be the No. 2 seed. If both teams win, Michigan State will be the No. 2 seed and Maryland the No. 3.

This afternoon, Big Ten basketball fans saw two of the best point guards in the conference square off against one another. Zavier Simpson and Anthony Cowan Jr. have been outstanding players for their programs.

This game started with Cowan Jr. getting the first points and Franz Wagner countering for Michigan. The game went back and forth early with a 7-6 score in the Wolverines favor under 16 minutes to go in the first half.

The Wolverines were in a scoring drought that lasted three minutes before Jon Teske knocked down a shot in the post.  Despite missing on three attempts from the perimeter, the Terps were shooting 45 percent from the field with only one turnover.

Smith had six points and six rebounds midway through the first half. The Terps were up 14-9 at that point. Ayala pushed the Terps lead to seven, 16-9, with a dribble-drive layup. He followed that up with a jumper extending their lead to nine.

Five points in a row were scored by David DeJulius for Michigan to get them within five, 20-15. Aaron Wiggins countered with a corner three. They made four out of their last five with that basket.  Maryland basketball had a 10 point lead, 25-15, after a nice pass by Donta Scott to Morsell for the layup. They had a 12-2 lead in paint points as a result.

Cowan Jr. made the Terps last three out of four baskets to get 10 points and give them a 33-23 lead. The Terps went into halftime up 13, 41-28, after Smith knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer that excited the crowd.

He had 11 points and six rebounds. Cowan Jr. had 10 points and four assists. DeJulius was Michigan’s only double-figure scorer at the half. Teske and Simpson had a combined two points.

Maryland basketball did a great job of scoring in the paint and pressuring the rim defensively. They had to be prepared for the Wolverines to make adjustments. A Big Ten title was theirs if they didn’t get complacent.

Cowan Jr. and Smith kept Maryland in rhythm scoring back-to-back. Cowan Jr. on a good sequence of ball movement that led to a dribble-drive layup. Smith got a nice back door pass from him for a two-handed slam. Terps had the lead 45-34.

The Wolverines got their deficit cut to seven, 47-40 after Wagner made a basket. Ayala made a corner three and Wagner countered with an end-to-end drive to the basket plus the foul.

The Wolverines scored on five straight trips down the floor and were 9-of-13 shooting in the second half. The Terps were up 56-53 as a result.

Later, Ayala hit a nice step-back three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down. They had a 62-52 lead at the time. He and Wiggins hit baskets back-to-back to give the Terps a brief 10 point lead.

The Terps secured this victory and a share of the Big Ten regular-season title for their seniors with an 83-70 score.

Cowan Jr. finished with 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Smith recorded his 21st double-double of the season (18 points, 11 rebounds four blocks). Ayala and Wiggins combined for 34 points and 10 rebounds.

Next: Biggest takeaways of the week

Take nothing away from Michigan. They worked hard to get back into this game and got solid minutes from DeJulius, Wagner, and Simpson. It was Maryland basketball’s game to win.