BLOOMINGTON, Ind. —- Chances are, Maryland’s victory at Indiana tonight isn’t the piece of the resume that will nudge it into the NCAA tournament come March.
There’s far bigger games still to come (hello, Sunday night against Villanova in the BB&T Classic). And while the Hoosiers are rebuilding without quick fixes, the truth is there are a handful of intriguing pieces but not nearly enough to return to the NCAA tournament this season.
Now, the Hoosiers could spring some surprises once Big Ten play arrives. Any time at least two of Maurice Creek, Jeremiah Rivers and Christian Watford play well, that’s going to be in play.
But as tense as things were for much of the night —- Maryland didn’t really wrap things up until the final few minutes —- the win provides at least a brief opportunity to exhale.
No, this isn’t a team on a doomed downward spiral, which a loss against the Hoosiers might have suggested. There are still things to figure out, and pieces to still plug in. But Maryland still pieced together a strong half to grind out a victory it simply required.
How good was Maryland after the break? It shot 56.5 percent. Indiana shot 32.4 percent.
Maryland had six turnovers. Indiana had nine.
The Terps took only four 3-pointers in the second half. Indiana was 3-for-15.
So in short, the Terps handled the situation maturely against an upstart team. Which is what they should have done.
No, it’s not going to get Maryland into the NCAA tournament. And it only alleviates some of the pressure on a team whose legitimate nonconference resume right now consists of a road victory against a team that went 6-25 last year.
But it was a positive development. And, oh, was it needed.
—- Patrick Stevens