Earlier this month, Maryland ripped off a 14-0 run to close a comeback win at Michigan State to vault itself into the Big Ten driver's seat. The Terrapins' stranglehold on the top was weakened by a loss Sunday at Ohio State and appeared to be in serious jeopardy Wednesday night in Minneapolis as the Gophers raced out to a 16-point lead. But Mark Turgeon's team did what championship teams tend to do when the going gets tough.
They found a way to get it done, even in the most hostile conditions.
Darryl Morsell's 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining capped a furious rally and sealed a 74-73 Maryland victory. Minnesota led by eight with 2:06 to play, but wilted down the stretch while the visitors bloomed.
Jalen Smith scored 16 points and Aaron Wiggins added 16 of his own off the bench. Maryland was able to overcome a dreadful 2-for-15 shooting game from Anthony Cowan, foul trouble that reared early and often, and multiple technicals.
Everything went against it for most of the night. At the end, though, it sidestepped all the landmines and climbed all the walls to get where it needed to go.
With a two-game conference lead intact, beating the Spartans at home on Saturday night in front of a GameDay-crazy crowd will ensure at least a share of the crown. Dates at Rutgers and with Michigan close what's shaping up to be a historic season in College Park.
Barring a collapse, it will be the Terrapins that emerge through an insanely-difficult Big Ten. It will be the school's first basketball championship since joining the Big Ten in 2014. Winning titles is its own reward, yet there would be something extra sweet to do it this year with all its toils and snares.
With the Big Ten eating its own, it's Maryland that's getting the fattest. And hey, they've earned it.