Maryland was a preseason top-10 team in the AP Top 25 poll, USA Today Coaches poll and the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1. So there's nothing too surprising about the Terrapins, on a five-game winning streak, sitting atop the Big Ten seven days into February.
Undeniably, it's a bit of a surprise that Illinois is the school tied for first with Maryland considering Brad Underwood's team was picked seventh in the preseason Big Ten poll -- and yet here we are. Maryland and Illinois are both 8-3 in the Big Ten heading into Friday night's showdown inside the StateFarm Center. So the winner of this game will wake up Saturday alone in first and thus be best positioned to win at least a share of the regular-season league title with just eight conference games remaining.
"I would expect nothing [less] than [for] both teams to play to their capabilities," Underwood told reporters this week.
If that's what happens, if both teams play to their capabilities, it should be a fantastic 40 minutes thanks, in part, to the presence of two of the Big Ten's best bigs -- namely Jalen Smith and Kofi Cockburn. Smith, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, is averaging 15.2 points and 10.0 rebounds for Maryland. Cockburn, a 7-foot center, is averaging 14.0 points and 9.2 rebounds for Illinois. Maryland is No. 10 in Friday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. Illinois is No. 19. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Filip Petrusev made 11 free throws and finished with 21 points in Thursday's 85-67 victory over Loyola Marymount. The Zags' 16-game winning streak features 12 double-digit victories.||--||31-1|
|Jared Butler finished with 20 points and three steals in Monday's 73-67 victory at Kansas State. The Bears' 19-game winning streak features victories over Kansas, Villanova and Butler.||--||28-2|
San Diego St
|Matt Mitchell made four 3-pointers and finished with 28 points in Saturday's 80-68 victory over Utah State. The Aztecs are 23-0 for the first time in school history.||--||23-5|
|Udoka Azubuike got 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench in Monday's 69-58 victory over Texas. The Jayhawks will take a seven-game winning streak into Saturday's game at TCU.||--||21-9|
|Jordan Nwora finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 86-76 victory over Wake Forest. The Cardinals will take a nine-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Virginia.||--||13-7|
|Obi Toppin finished with 18 points and six rebounds in Saturday's 70-56 victory over Fordham. Both of the Flyers' losses are overtime losses to schools also ranked in the Top 25 And 1.||--||14-10|
|Patrick Williams got 14 points and nine rebounds off the bench in Monday's 65-59 victory over North Carolina. Florida State is 12-1 in its past 13 games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Virginia.||--||18-7|
|Oscar Tshiebwe finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday's 76-61 victory over Iowa State. West Virginia is 10-4 in Quadrant 1/Quadrant 2 opportunities with zero losses outside of the first two quadrants.||--||19-10|
|Vernon Carey finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday's 63-55 victory at Boston College. The Blue Devils will take a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game at North Carolina.||--||13-11|
|Jalen Smith finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds in Tuesday's 56-51 victory over Rutgers. The Terrapins are 10-4 in Quadrant 1/Quadrant 2 opportunities with zero losses outside of the first quadrant.||--||17-14|
|Myles Powell finished with 34 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 78-71 victory at Georgetown. The Pirates will enter the weekend with a two-game lead in the Big East standings.||--||14-13|
|Samir Doughty made three 3-pointers and finished with 23 points in Tuesday's 79-76 overtime victory at Arkansas. Auburn is 10-2 in Quadrant 1/Quadrant 2 opportunities with zero losses outside of the first quadrant.||--||13-14|
|Kamar Baldwin finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday's 79-76 victory over Villanova. The Bulldogs are 11-5 in Quadrant 1/Quadrant 2 opportunities with zero losses outside of the first two quadrants.||--||10-15|
|The Ducks missed 17 of the 24 3-pointers they attempted in Saturday's 70-64 loss at Stanford. Oregon still has a Pac-12-leading seven league wins.||--||21-7|
|The Wildcats allowed Butler to shoot 57.7% from the field in Wednesday's 79-76 loss on the road. Villanova has lost consecutive games for the first time all season.||--||18-7|
|Lamar Stevens finished with 24 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 75-70 win at Michigan State. The Nittany Lions will take a five-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Minnesota.||--||11-14|
|Nick Richards finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds in Tuesday's 80-72 victory over Mississippi State. The Wildcats are 5-1 in their past six games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Auburn.||--||9-16|
|Markus Howard made five 3-pointers and finished with 31 points in Saturday's 76-72 victory over DePaul. Marquette is 5-1 in its past six games with the lone loss in that stretch coming in overtime at Butler.||--||13-14|
|The Illini allowed Iowa to shoot 50% from the field, and 43.5% from 3-point range, in Sunday's loss inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The loss snapped Illinois' seven-game winning streak.||--||24-7|
|Tyler Bey finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in Thursday's 71-65 victory over California. The Buffaloes are 9-4 in Quadrant 1/Quadrant 2 opportunities with only one loss coming outside of the first two quadrants.||--||23-9|
|The Bluejays missed 21 of the 27 3-pointers they attempted in Wednesay's 73-56 loss at Providence. The loss snapped Creighton's four-game winning streak.||--||22-9|
|The Hawkeyes allowed Purdue to shoot 63.1% from the field in Wednesday's 104-68 loss on the road. Iowa is 3-4 in true road games.||--||22-9|
|The Tigers allowed Vanderbilt to shoot 57.4% from the field in Wednesday's 99-90 loss on the road. LSU's resume features five losses to currently unranked teams.||--||19-10|
|Cassius Winston was the only Michigan State player to reach double-figures in points in Tuesday's 75-70 loss to Penn State. The Spartans are 3-4 in their past seven games.||--||15-13|
|Quentin Grimes finished with 15 points and five assists in Thursday's 75-62 victory over Tulane. The Cougars are 6-1 in their past seven games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Cincinnati.||--||28-4|
|Nico Mannion finished with 20 points and seven assists in Thursday's 85-80 victory over USC. The Wildcats are 5-1 in their past six games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Arizona State.||--||17-9|