COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Each member of the Maryland basketball team took turns gripping the trophy awarded to the Big Ten Conference champions. They wore bright red hats boasting their accomplishment, and they proudly cut down the nets on each side of the court.
It really didn't matter to coach Mark Turgeon or the No. 9 Terrapins that their 83-70 victory over 25th-ranked Michigan on Sunday was good for only a share of the regular-season title. After more than four months' worth of exhilarating wins and bitterly disappointing defeats, the robust celebration — which served as a welcome release of emotion — came without apology.
“Would we have liked to have won it outright? Absolutely, but we're still champs," Turgeon declared.
Maryland moved into a first-place tie with Wisconsin, and Michigan State joined the fray at the top by defeating Ohio State later Sunday. If two or more teams tie atop the standings at the end of the season, it is a shared championship.
And that was good enough for Maryland, which received its first Big Ten championship trophy since joining the league in 2014. Wisconsin, however, is assured the top seed in the conference tournament this week by virtue of owning the best record in games involving the first-place teams.
The Terrapins held a two-game lead with five to go but lost three of four before defeating the Wolverines to finish 16-1 at home.
“We had it hanging over us for two weeks. We were in first place for almost four weeks,” Turgeon said. “There was a lot on our guys, and obviously this is a big weight off us.”
Anthony Cowan Jr. had 20 points and eight assists in his final home game at Maryland. The senior guard went 7 for 11 from the floor and made six free throws in the final minute.