Having lost seven of eight games — four of which were double-digit losses — the Wisconsin men’s basketball team (3-8 Big Ten, 10-14 overall) heads to College Park, Md., Sunday staring down the barrel of its worst nine-game stretch in 20 years. There, the Terrapins (4-7, 15-9) look ready to feast on a struggling Badger team.
Maryland has found difficulty registering wins of late as well, but looked impressive even in its recent losses. The Terps recently came within six and eight points of beating No. 5 Michigan State and No. 3 Purdue on the road, respectively, and nearly knocked off Purdue at the Xfinity Center back in early December.
The Badgers, on the other hand, saddled by injuries to key contributors, have lost by an average of nearly 14 points in conference road games.
Maryland is led by the dangerous scoring duo of Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter, who have combined to score 30.4 points per game this season, but there can be no understating the balance of its offense.
Six Terps have scored at least seven points per game in conference play, compared to just four for UW, and Cowan has come alive in Big Ten play, registering 18 points per contest.
Huerter has been the most efficient member of a dynamic offensive attack, recording a petrifying 0.65 effective field goal percentage. That number is thanks in large part to his brilliance from beyond the 3-point line, where he’s drilled 45.6 percent of his shots.
Mercifully, Maryland will be without at least one significant contributor in Justin Jackson, who suffered a shoulder injury before the new year. Michal Cekovsky, a terrifying tree at 7-foot-1, is listed as doubtful for the matchup with UW. He’s averaged 7.2 points and 1.1 blocks on a breezy 66 percent from the field in just 18.3 minutes per game.
It’s worth noting that the Terps have been one of the stingiest teams in the nation this year in terms of giving up free throws. They rank third in the NCAA in opponent free-throw rate, which, oddly enough may be to the benefit of the Badgers, who have connected on a paltry 69.4 percent of their foul-line shots.
If there’s an easy way to exploit the Terps, it’s in transition; Maryland has turned the ball over of 20.9 percent of its possessions this year. Although the UW defense is not designed to force many live-ball turnovers, redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ and freshman guard Brad Davison have been excellent thieves in their respective careers.
The Badgers will need any spark they can get to avoid their first five-game losing streak since 2009. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m.