Maryland's first foray into the Big Ten tournament ended earlier than anticipated last year. While this one is expected to go smoother, the Terrapins don't enter it with any momentum.
No. 18 Maryland will try to avoid a fourth straight loss away from home and reach the semifinals again Friday night against upset-minded Nebraska in Indianapolis.
The Terrapins (24-7) were the second seed in the conference tournament last year, beating No. 7 Indiana before falling 62-58 to third-seeded Michigan State in the semifinals.
They spent much of this season ranked in the top ten nationally, but have lost some luster by closing the regular season with four losses in six games.
Maryland didn't allay any fears about those struggles Sunday, shooting 41.4 percent in an 80-62 defeat to then-No. 12 Indiana.
"We just didn't finish the first half right, didn't finish the second half right," coach Mark Turgeon said.
Few things have gone right on the road in conference play for the Terps, who have lost five of seven and three straight away from College Park while shooting 41.7 percent from the field, well below their 48.9 overall mark on the season.
One positive is Melo Trimble's return to form. The sophomore guard has averaged 18.0 points in his last three games, nearly doubling his 9.8 clip from the previous four.
Trimble scored a game-high 20 on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range, in a 70-65 win at Nebraska (16-17) on Feb. 3.
Freshman center Diamond Stone nearly had a triple-double in that meeting with 16 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high eight blocks.
Maryland has won all three meetings in the series by a combined 11 points.
The 11th-seeded Cornhuskers are trying to reach a conference tournament semifinal for the first time since 2006 when they were a member of the Big 12.
They're unexpectedly in position to do it after concluding the regular season with five straight losses. Nebraska, however, followed that with a 89-72 win over Rutgers on Wednesday before upsetting sixth-seeded Wisconsin 70-58 on Thursday.
Shavon Shields has been instrumental to the surprising run, scoring 20 points in each of the last two games while totaling 20 rebounds.
"His leadership and his presence really matters to the guys," coach Tim Miles said. "When he starts driving to the basket I feel sorry for the guy trying to step in his way because he's a big, physical guy trying to go to the rim."
Shields has averaged 16.7 points in three career meetings with Maryland, but he had trouble with the Terps last month. The senior missed 13 of 17 from the floor and finished with 11 points, while Nebraska shot just 31.8 percent for its second-lowest mark of the season.
Andrew White III was a bright spot with 19 points and nine boards. However, he's only averaging 10.2 points on 38.0 percent shooting over the past five games, a significant drop from his 16.4 points and 48.1 percent season totals.
The winner advances to face either No. 2 Michigan State or seventh-seeded Ohio State on Saturday.