Fri, 23 Apr 2021

Tournament hopefuls Spartans, Terps clash in Maryland

Field Level Media
28 Feb 2021, 03:55 GMT+10

It's not often a late-season matchup between two teams with losing records in Big Ten play has the interest of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

But that will be the case when Michigan State faces Maryland on Sunday afternoon in College Park, Md.

Seemingly left for dead just a week ago, Michigan State has improbably resurrected its season after a brilliant week of basketball.

The Spartans rallied for a road win at Indiana last Saturday and then recorded an upset of No. 5 Illinois at home on Tuesday.

Then just 48 hours later, Michigan State recorded another top-5 upset, beating No. 4 Ohio State at home to all of a sudden thrust itself into consideration for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Michigan State enters 13-9 overall, 7-9 in Big Ten play and climbed to No. 69 in the NET rankings as of Saturday after being ranked No. 91 before the Indiana game.

The Spartans haven't missed the NCAA tournament since 1997.

"We have to continue to be hungry, never satisfied," Michigan State junior Aaron Henry said. "I mean, we've all won in that locker room before. I like to say don't applaud the fish for swimming. Fish swim all day. Spartans have won before. We have won before and we have to continue to do that. Take it one day at a time."

Henry has been the biggest reason for Michigan State's resurgence, averaging 21.7 points over the last three games and taking over late in games.

The next obstacle for the Spartans in their quest to keep their 22-year NCAA Tournament streak alive is a well-rested and hot Maryland team, which has won four in a row and also is in the NCAA Tournament discussion.

The Terrapins (14-10, 8-9) were No. 32 in the NET rankings as of Saturday and will have had a week of rest following a 68-59 win at Rutgers last Sunday.

That time off could be a big edge for Maryland against a Michigan State team that will be playing its fourth game in nine days.

"We're getting better offensively," Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said after the Rutgers win. "We're getting more open shots. We're getting downhill, we're getting to the foul line more and taking advantage of our matchups at the other end. It's been a process."

--Field Level Media

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