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There's not a lot separating Northwestern from Maryland, at least on the rankings which measure the offensive and defensive efficiency of college basketball teams.

While the Wildcats started the week at No. 43 on KenPom, the Terrapins were at No. 44.

In the Big Ten standings, however, there's lots of room between likely NCAA Tournament team Northwestern (19-8, 10-6) and also-ran Maryland (15-13, 7-10), who face off Wednesday night in College Park, Md.

Accounting for the difference in the records of the teams is their performance in the clutch. In games decided by five or fewer points, the Wildcats are 8-2 while the Terrapins are 1-9.

Among those closely contested games is Northwestern's 72-69 win at home on Jan. 17 over Maryland in which neither team led by more than six points. Wildcats star Boo Buie ultimately made the difference, scoring two baskets in the final minute.

Seven weeks later, the Wildcats are widely projected to be on the good side of the NCAA Tournament bubble while the Terrapins need a strong finish just to get in the discussion.

They took a step in that direction on Sunday with a convincing 63-46 win at Rutgers as Maryland limited the Scarlet Knights to an offensive output that matched their season low.

Maryland also dominated the boards 42-29 behind Jordan Geronimo (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Julian Reese (20 points, six rebounds).

The Terrapins held the Scarlet Knights without a field goal during an 11:37 span that bridged the half as they increased a two-point lead to 20.

"We're the fifth-ranked defensive team in the country," coach Kevin Willard said, referring to the Terrapins' defensive efficiency rating on KenPom. "We've played hard all year. We've just struggled in close games."

Northwestern is coming off a 76-62 win at home over Michigan on Thursday as Ryan Langborg scored 20 points with five 3-pointers while Buie added 16 points in becoming the program's all-time scoring leader.

After taking his seat in the postgame press conference, Northwestern coach Chris Collins donned a headband as a nod to Buie.

"Forget about the records," Collins said. "He's given us a cool factor in basketball, which is a big thing when you try to change the perception of what you want your program to be."

--Field Level Media

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