Is it any coincidence Maryland keeps pulling out close games? Its victory Tuesday against the Indiana Hoosiers was a small sample of what we've seen from Maryland all season. Knocking down clutch shots and relying on star Melo Trimble has been the recipe to its sustained success.
Maryland is now 9-1 in games decided by 10 points or fewer, and 3-1 in Big Ten play after its 75-72 victory against Indiana.
Here are three takeaways:
1. Indiana is trending in the wrong direction.
The Hoosiers are one of the most puzzling teams in all of college basketball, and the résumé reflects that. They have two victories against KenPom top-10 teams, and three losses to teams ranked lower than 50 in KenPom.
No matter how you slice it, the Hoosiers are trending in the wrong direction. The loss to Maryland is their fourth in five games, three of which have come by fewer than 10 points. Tom Crean's team has some issues to figure out, and closing out games is at the forefront. The Big Ten schedule won't get any easier during the next two weeks.
2. Melo Trimble is the Terrapins' lifeblood.
I would like to pose the question: Where would Maryland be right now without Melo Trimble? But I don't think Terrapins fans would like the answer.
He had an off night against Indiana. Early foul trouble forced him to sit for a brief stint in the second half, and he couldn't find his rhythm on offense; he finished 5 for 16 from the floor, including 0 for 2 from the 3-point line.
But he still found a way to get it done. He gets to the rack as well as anyone in college basketball, and wills his way to score even on off nights.
And Trimble once again came through in the clutch, as he has all season. With 8 seconds remaining in the game, and Maryland up one, Trimble buried two free throws. Indiana's 3-pointer at the buzzer sailed short.
3. Maryland now inserts itself as a contender in the Big Ten.
Coming into this season, the expectations were rightfully conservative. Maryland lost enough in the offseason that without Melo Trimble, there weren't many experts picking the Terps in the Big Ten.
Yet here we are four games in, and Mark Turgeon has positioned his team into a five-way tie for first place in the conference. But can the Terps sustain it?
Four of the next five games will be on the road against conference foes, and KenPom is favoring Maryland in only one of them. Purdue, Minnesota, Nebraska and Michigan State are later in the schedule. So the next two weeks could determine whether the Terps will be contenders.