Five games into the season, the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins are already looking the part of Big Ten champions. And it’s all going according to the plan so far, considering they were picked to win it all in the conference’s preseason poll. Their closest game of this young season was an 11-point victory over Dayton where the visiting Flyers made a staggering 13 three-pointers — an easy way for the Terps to realize where they need to improve. (They’ve given up just eight makes from beyond the arc in the three games since.)
Granted, Maryland has yet to play a Big Ten game, but in terms of consistency and pure dominance, the Terps have all but coasted to their 5-0 record going into Saturday’s battle with a suddenly struggling Georgia team. From Week 2 to 3, the Bulldogs fell from No. 14 to unranked following two losses that, at the time, evened out their record at 2-2. Both Georgia and Maryland beat Morgan State to open the Puerto Rico Clasico, the Terps doing so behind Kaila Charles’ 18 points, Taylor Mikesell’s 17 points and Stephanie Jones’ 10-point, 11-rebound double-double.
On the other side of smooth sailing, the team favored to win the Big Ten if Maryland doesn’t — the No. 12 Iowa Hawkeyes — faced some unexpected trouble in their first game of the Junkanoo Jam against No. 25 West Virginia. The Hawkeyes were down by as many as 24 points and entered the locker room at halftime down 48-29, but staged a furious comeback in the second half that saw them pull out an 84-81 victory. Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Megan Gustafson led the way for Iowa with 28 points and 16 rebounds, while Makenzie Meyer added 20 points.
Tonight, the Hawkeyes face Florida State, a fellow five-win team who took their first loss of the year on Sunday in a low-scoring affair against LSU. It’ll be a quick rematch for two teams that met in last season’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge, where Florida State escaped with a one-point victory in Iowa City despite Gustafson’s 34-point effort.
No. 7 Maryland Terrapins (5-0) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (3-2)
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 12 p.m. ET
Where: Mario Morales Coliseum, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Notes: If the Terps can handle Georgia the way they’ve been dominating their other opponents, then their upcoming Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Georgia Tech will only become more intriguing. Georgia Tech upset the Bulldogs on Sunday, 63-53.
No. 12 Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0) vs. Florida State Seminoles (5-1)
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: Gateway Christian Academy, Bimini, Bahamas
Notes: Florida State leads the all-time series between these teams 2-0, but this will be the first meeting where Iowa is in the AP Poll and Florida State isn’t. In their previous meetings, the Seminoles were either ranked higher than the Hawkeyes or both teams were unranked.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten:
- For the second week in a row, Megan Gustafson (No. 12 Iowa) and Shakira Austin (No. 7 Maryland) were named Big Ten Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, respectively.
- No. 23 Minnesota beat Cornell 65-45 on Friday to stay perfect on the season, joining Maryland, Iowa and Wisconsin at 5-0. The Golden Gophers are not playing in a tournament this weekend, so up next for them is Thursday’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against No. 14 Syracuse (8:30 p.m. ET, BTN).
- Wisconsin picked up its first win in the Challenge in the Music City tournament, using a 23-8 fourth-quarter advantage to pull away and beat Pitt 57-42. They’ll face Tennessee State tonight (6 p.m. ET, listen here).
- Michigan upset No. 21 Missouri in the Gulf Coast Showcase on Friday, 70-54. The Wolverines will try to improve on that win over a ranked team with one against No. 10 Texas tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, listen here).
- The conference went 0-3 on Thanksgiving Day, with Purdue (Paradise Jam), Rutgers (Vancouver Showcase) and Michigan State (Cancún Challenge) all falling in their first tournament games. Purdue and Michigan State were able to grab redeeming wins on Friday, while Rutgers lost once again.
- In other Friday tournament action, Nebraska lost to No. 24 Miami in the Miami Thanksgiving Classic and Illinois beat Cal Poly in the #ShareSLO Holiday Beach Classic.