It could be argued that Indiana did not look like an NCAA Tournament team the last month of the season.
The same can’t be said for how the Hoosiers looked the last two days in the Big Ten Tournament.
Dez Wells scored 22 points and Melo Trimble added 17 Friday night as No. 8 ranked Maryland knocked Indiana out of the conference tournament in the quarterfinal round, 75-69, at the United Center in Chicago.
Maryland will play in Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinals against Michigan State. The Spartans beat Ohio State in the nightcap 76-67. Wiconsin will play Purdue in the first semifinal on Saturday.
The Hoosiers (20-13) will now have to await the decision of the NCAA Tournament committee as to whether IU is in the field of 68. As of early Friday, the Hoosiers were still considered one of the final four teams in by several bracketology experts.
Maryland (27-5), the tournament’s No. 2 seed pulled away late and led by nine before Max Hoetzel made a 3-pointer with less than 3 seconds to play.
But this was a back-and-forth affair all game long.
In fact, when Robert Johnson made a pair of free throws with 39 seconds to play, Indiana had cut the lead to two at 68-66.
But Maryland hit its free throws in the final 39 seconds. The Terrapins made seven of their final eight and Indiana couldn’t connect from deep when it needed shots the most. Johnson missed a 3 from the left wing with 30 seconds to play and Yogi Ferrell missed a couple of 3-point attempts late.
Indiana played the game without the services of center Hanner Mosquera-Perea who was injured Thursday night against Northwestern. Perea dressed for the game and sat on the bench but IU coach Tom Crean had said in the pregame show that Perea would not play.
Indiana struggled shooting the ball Friday, hitting just 35.5 percent from the field. IU was 7-of-24 from 3-point range.
Ferrell, who had averaged 23.5 points per game and hit 13-of-17 3-pointers in two regular season games against Maryland this season, led IU with 18 but shot just 6-of-16 from the field. He was 2-of-7 from 3-point range.
James Blackmon Jr., IU’s star on Thursday with 25 points, was limited to six against Maryland. He made just 2-of-12 shots from the field. The last time IU had played Maryland Blackmon was 2-of-14 from the field against the Terps.
Emmitt Holt played well in place of Mosquera-Perea as the freshman forward had six points, a career-high 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Indiana held a 37-36 edge on the boards and had 18 offensive rebounds.
So Indiana will now wait to see if it plays in the NCAA Tournament next week or if it likely would host an NIT game.