Previews & Predictions: All-In on Maryland Women’s Basketball Ahead of the Big Ten Tournament

Photo by Chris Lyons/Maryland Terrapins

By Aidan Currie and Ben Geffner

How We Got Here:

The 2023-24 season has been an inauspicious one for the decorated Maryland women’s basketball program. 

Entering this year’s campaign, there was swirling speculation about whether or not Maryland would have enough pieces to fill the void left by Diamond Miller and Abby Meyers’ departures and to be fair, some Terps have. 

After contributing substantially as a sophomore, Shyanne Sellers made the leap to become the focal point of the Maryland offense this season – leading the Terps in points, assists, and defensive rebounds. 

In addition to Sellers, sophomore Bri McDaniel has made a remarkable jump between this season and last. McDaniel averaged just 3 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.6 steals per game last season. This year, McDaniel averaged 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game, all the while becoming Maryland’s defensive anchor.  

Graduate transfer Jakia Brown-Turner returned to the DMV after spending the first four seasons of her college career at N.C. State. Brown-Turner faced some initial struggles but found her scoring touch once the Terps got into the thick of Big Ten play, and has been one of Maryland’s best offensive pieces down the stretch. 

Yet, even with multiple players stepping up, Maryland hasn’t been able to overcome two glaring issues: injuries and a lack of quality wins. 

In many ways, the two issues have gone hand in hand. When the Terps began the season they were more-or-less running a 10-man rotation, but now in March, that number has shrunk to just seven with Emma Chardon, Riley Nelson, and Lavender Briggs, all suffering season-ending injuries at different points this year.  

As for big games, Maryland has struggled mightily. Just one of the Terps’ 17 wins came against a ranked opponent – now No. 20 Syracuse in November – and at the time, the Orange weren’t even ranked. More concerning though, are the Terps’ conference splits. The Terps finished the year ranked eighth in the Big Ten standings. Against the six teams who finished with worse records below them, Maryland holds a perfect 8-0 record. However, against teams who finished above them, the Terps’ went 1-9. 

A fair amount of Maryland’s struggles against good teams can be linked to its inefficient depth – but naturally, there are a plethora of other factors as well. 

Now staring March in the face, the Terps will have to find a way to string together multiple wins against good teams, or one of the most decorated programs in women’s college basketball could find itself at home before the madness even begins.   

Significance of Thursday’s Game

Luckily for Maryland, its opening game in the Big Ten tournament is against a team that finished below them in the Big Ten standings. 

The eighth-seeded Terps will be tipping off against ninth-seeded Illinois at 12:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As their conference splits would suggest, the Terps have had the Fighting Illini’s number this season, with Maryland sweeping the two games they played against each other. 

Even more encouraging for the Terps is the fact that they managed to win in two different manners. In their first meeting, Maryland prevailed in a 90-82 shootout at the Xfinity Center. The point total was the Terps’ highest against any Power-5 opponent all season. Conversely, Maryland played one of its best defensive games of the Big Ten season, when they gutted out a 69-53 victory the second time around. 

All things considered, Thursday’s game against Illinois is a very winnable one for Maryland. But if the Terps stumble, will their season be over for good? 

ESPN’s Charlie Creme currently lists Maryland as being part of the ‘Last Four Bye’ for the NCAA Tournament, so the Terps do sit on a favorable side of the bubble. However, with so few quality wins to fall back on, it’s entirely possible that an early Big Ten tournament exit at the hands of the Fighting Illini could push the Terps out of the tournament field. 

On the other hand, a win over Illinois should just about secure a tournament berth for Maryland. A win – or even a competitive game – against top-seeded No. 4 Ohio State would probably cement the Terps as a tournament team for good, but it will all start with taking care of business against Illinois. 

Can The Terps Run the Table?

Can a team that has struggled to beat top-end conference opponents this season, win four games in four days against multiple top-end conference opponents, all the while running a seven-man rotation? Probably not. But can they win multiple games in the tournament? Possibly. 

Even through unfortunate injuries and losses of key depth pieces, Maryland’s shown exceptional resilience and adaptability – two essential traits that will continue to define the Terps throughout postseason play.

Maryland’s key to success revolves around closing out games – maintaining poise and confidence late. If the Terps manage to beat Illinois, they’ll face top-seeded Ohio State in the third round and then Michigan State or Nebraska in a fourth-round matchup – all of whom played close games against Maryland at different points this season. 

While Maryland has hung with Ohio State both times the two squared off this season, getting over the hump will be a different story. Just about everything would need to go right for the Terps, but if they can really hone in on limiting their turnovers and consistently beat the Buckeyes’ heavy press – which is far easier said than done – then they might be able to squeak out a victory.  

Past the potential Ohio State matchup, the Terps will likely face Nebraska or Michigan State in the tournament semifinals if they can make it that far. Maryland wouldn’t be favored in either matchup, but in their lone matchup against the Cornhuskers – on the road – the Terps lost by six points, and in their lone matchup against the Spartans – which was also on the road – they lost by five. Fatigue would almost certainly begin setting in by day three, but on a neutral court, the Terps could upset either team. 

The Terps have proven time and time again that they can compete with the best teams in the nation. But can they put together multiple 40-minute, complete games from start to finish – and step up when it matters most? Only time will tell.

Terps to Watch


X-Factor: Shyanne Sellers

Despite not fitting the mold of a true point guard, Sellers has stepped into the role this season and been one of the Terps’ most productive pieces on offense, however, the Terps tend to live and die by her output.  

Throughout Maryland’s 17 wins this season Sellers is averaging 17.4 points and 6.4 assists per game. But in 10 of the Terps’ 12 losses – the two exceptions being the game at Penn State when Sellers exited early with an injury and the following game against Indiana when she was sidelined with that same injury – those averages shrink to 12.8 points, and 3.9 assists, per game. Sellers’ turnover splits also pose another area of interest. In wins, Sellers only turns it over 2.7 times per game but in losses that number rises to 4.7.  

Of course, there’s more to this Maryland offense than Sellers’ success, but when #0 is rolling, everyone else tends to follow.  

Honorable Mention: Emily Fisher

Freshman Emily Fisher has logged the least amount of minutes amongst the seven members of the Terps’ seven-man rotation. Despite some of her inexperience though, Maryland head coach Brenda Frese has identified Fisher as someone she expects to step up in Lavender Briggs’ absence. Completely replacing Briggs’ bench production isn’t realistic. But if Fisher can consistently win extra possessions on the glass while also contributing 6-10 points per game, her efforts may be the difference between a tight loss and a narrow victory in one of the tournament games.   


X-Factor: Allie Kubek

In games this season where Allie Kubek scores in double figures (10+ points), Maryland is 9-3. Furthermore, the Terps are 14-3 in games where Kubek collects 4+ rebounds. Simply put: when Kubek’s hooping, Maryland is tough to beat.

While she doesn’t stuff the stat sheet every night, the junior forward could, quite possibly, be the team’s biggest X-Factor this postseason.

Kubek serves as an essential piece in helping to exploit mismatches offensively, while also providing much-needed size in the paint, assisting in the overall defense and rebounding departments. With both Emma Chardon (6 ‘2’’) and Riley Nelson (6 ‘2’’) unavailable due to season-ending injuries, Kubek’s shifted into a premier role – helping to provide the Terps with much-needed height and reinforcements around the rim.

If Kubek can provide double-digit, efficient scoring numbers throughout the postseason, the Terps definitely have the firepower – both on the offensive and defensive ends – to make a deep run.

Honorable Mention: Brinae Alexander

Brinae Alexander’s averages this season are essentially identical to that of last season (9.0 vs 8.8 ppg, 3.3 vs 2.8 rpg, 1.0 vs 1.0 apg, 1.1 vs 1.3 spg). The glaring stat: Alexander’s three-point percentage has dropped more than five percent in comparison to last year (43.9% in 2022-23 vs 38.1% in 2023-24).

While the sharpshooting senior guard’s per-game numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, we certainly know what she’s capable of – as evident by Alexander’s 29-point scoring clinic earlier this season in a blowout win over Niagara, with near-flawless efficiency (11/13 from the field, 7/9 on triples).

Alexander’s a streaky, rhythm scorer who thrives from beyond the arc – making her yet another X-factor on this Terps’ team. If she can pour in buckets when needed, Maryland’s offense will roll – translating to massive, timely momentum shifts in the biggest moments of games.

Our Tournament Predictions:

*Our brackets was filled out prior to the first round of games being played on Wednesday*

**Bracket courtesy of  2024 WBB Tournament Bracket (PDF) – Big Ten Conference**

Pick Notes 

Round 1

Rutgers vs. Minnesota: 

The Scarlet Knights may have only won two conference games all season, but one of those was against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have also been a shell of themselves since the injury to Mara Braun in late January, losing eight of nine in her absence. 

Round 2

Wisconsin vs. Penn State:

We were really conflicted on this pick. On paper, the Lady Lions are the better team, but they’re not far removed from a brutal six-game losing streak that included a loss to Wisconsin. After winning their previous two though, it seems like Penn State has figured something out, and we expect them to come out firing against the Badgers. 


Indiana vs. Michigan:

We picked a lot of chalk in the first three rounds, and we considered picking this as a lone quarterfinal upset but ultimately held off. Based on some of the reports coming out of Bloomington, it seems that there’s a decent chance Mackenzie Holmes plays. If Holmes isn’t able to go though, we both agreed that the Wolverines would pull off the upset. 


Michigan State vs. Ohio State   

We felt like the bracket was missing a massive upset so here it is. This Michigan State team is a lot better than most people realize, and they’re playing some of their basketball right now. The Spartans have also come really close to beating all of the top three teams in the conference this season (a three-point loss at Indiana, a five-point loss at Ohio State, and a three-point loss at Iowa on a Caitlin Clark buzzer-beater), and in this instance, we think they get over that hump. 

Iowa vs. Indiana 

This game should be incredible. The pair met twice during the regular season and the home team dominated in both instances. Of course, this game would take place on a neutral floor though, but no floor featuring the Hawkeyes is truly neutral. Iowa fans follow their team EVERYWHERE, and Minneapolis won’t be an exception. We think Iowa win a really close, well-played game … hopefully something that resembles last season’s 86-85 classic in Iowa City.


Michigan State vs. Iowa

The Spartans managed to push the Hawkeyes to the brink when the two met earlier this season, but of course, Caitlin Clark saved the day for Iowa. This time around we don’t anticipate that Clark will need to play hero-ball, although it wouldn’t be surprising if she has a 40-point triple-double – because why wouldn’t she? As good as Michigan State is, pulling two top-five upsets in as many days just seems like too tough of a task for the Spartans, and thus we expect the Hawkeyes to win their third straight Big Ten championship.