No. 2 Maryland faces Division II Bowie State on Tuesday evening in College Park.
Here are 5 things you need to know about the matchup.
1) Still not No. 1 -- but that might be fine
Head coach Mark Turgeon talked more about rankings than he typically does to the media, now that Maryland is No. 2 but still shy of No. 1, which went to Villanova this week. Turgeon says the team has dealt with being No. 5, No. 4, and No. 3, so No. 2 should be no different.
With all of the shuffling in the polls -- and the tendency for No. 1 teams not to remain there long -- this year, settling in out of the direct spotlight at No. 2 isn’t necessarily the worst thing.
2) Unique timing
It’s not often that a Division II opponent pops up on the schedule in the middle of conference play, but that’s where Maryland finds itself on Tuesday when they face Bowie State.
In a way, it kind of breaks the conference schedule up with 12 games behind them and six ahead. Turgeon said it could help to keep some rhythm. Outside of that, it should help Maryland to get some more work in on areas they have been forced to ignore because of the crunch of games in recent weeks -- things like zone offense.
3) Chance to pull back?
The minutes load for Maryland’s starters, especially its backcourt of Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon, has been heavy. Because of either spotty struggles or the lack of a proven extended minutes, the starters have been relied upon in big games.
If all goes as planned against Bowie State, we should see a reduction in those minutes on Tuesday. The hope for Maryland is that it can be something of a tune-up if the Terrapins can impose their will early, then shift the responsibility to the bench to close the deal.
4) What to expect from Bowie State
The Bulldogs feature a balanced scoring attack that includes three upperclassmen in double figures. Justin Beck, a Baltimore native and senior guard, is the team’s leading scorer at 14.8 points per game. Fellow senior Julian Livingston averages 10.7 points per game. Silver Spring, Md. native Miles Jackson averages an even 10 points per game.
Bowie relies heavily on the three-point shot, taking nearly 21 attempts per game from deep as a team and hitting on 32.9 percent of their shots from that distance.
Maryland struggled with perimeter defense earlier in the season, but has turned it up a notch on that end of the floor of late.
5) Not to look ahead...but looking ahead
If all goes as planned and Maryland gets its win Tuesday, they will officially be in the home stretch of the Big Ten season. Six games remain in the regular season -- three on the road and three at home.
As has been said before, there are no real opportunities for signatures wins. But there are four of those (vs. Wisconsin, vs. Michigan, at Purdue, at Indiana) that would be solid March resume builders -- and tough for that resume to take a loss, considering they still have work to do to lock in their projected No. 2 seed or reach higher and be in the conversation for a No. 1.