MARYLAND TERRAPINS (13-2)
at MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (11-4)
Crisler Center – Ann Arbor, MI
Tip-off: Saturday, 3:15pm ET
Michigan and Maryland tangle in a Big Ten battle on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan and Maryland will both be looking to crack .500 after 1-1 Big Ten starts this season when they meet for the sixth time Saturday. Maryland holds a 4-1 (2-2-1 ATS) advantage over the Wolverines thus far since 2000. The Terrapins are 2-1 (2-1 ATS) against Michigan since joining the Big Ten in 2014. Michigan’s win did come in the only meeting at the Crisler Center between these two, with the Wolverines pulling a 70-67 home upset (Mich +2.5) last January. Michigan has been solid at home this season (9-1) but is just 2-5 ATS. The Wolverines are 0-3 ATS since Dec. 22 with two of those three contests coming in Ann Arbor, and were outrebounded in each of their last three games. Michigan has also failed to shoot better than 35% 3PT in those three contests. The Terrapins have had one true road game this season, which was a victory over Georgetown in the second game of the season (76-75, MD +6.5). Maryland will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing home loss to Nebraska on New Year’s Day (67-65, MD -7.5). Maryland was outrebounded by the Huskers in that contest and has been on the losing end of the rebounding battle in both of their losses this season. In the Terrapins’ six ATS losses, Maryland has been outrebounded in five of those contests (7-6 ATS on the season). Having not played since the first of the month, Maryland will have had six days of preparation for Michigan. The long layoff should serve the Terrapins well as they are 6-1 (5-1 ATS) with 3+ days rest. Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon will be without 7’1” Michal Cekovsky (10.0 PPG, 67.8% FG) again due to a sore ankle. It’ll be the seventh game the big man has missed this season (third in a row), but Maryland is 5-1 without him.
Maryland welcomes back glue guy and defensive presence, F Damonte Dodd (5.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG) after a six-game absence. Dodd got his feet wet with 15 minutes in the loss versus Nebraska, but as Maryland’s best rim protector he could see additional minutes – especially without the availability of Cekovsky. While Dodd is an asset off the bench, the Terrapins leader on both ends of the floor is junior G Melo Trimble (17.8 PPG, 48% FG). While Trimble’s shooting is at a career-high clip from the field and his scoring has followed suit, his assists-to-turnover ratio has been turned on its head this season (for the worse). As a prospective first round pick who turned away the lure of the NBA for one more season in College Park, Coach Turgeon and the Terps need more from their star in conference play. Trimble went 5-of-15 from the field in Maryland’s loss to Nebraska last Sunday and has 13 turnovers over his past three games. The Terrapins have gotten glimpses of promise from freshmen Kevin Huerter (8.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG), Justin Jackson (10.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.0 BPG) and Anthony Cowan (10.5 PPG, 3.7 APG) in key moments this season and will need consistency from the three future pillars of their program. Huerter went off for a career-high 26 points (7-for-11 3PT) against Nebraska on Sunday, while Cowan has posted big performances in an overtime win over Richmond (18 points, five rebounds, four assists) and most recently over Illinois (12 points, six assists, one turnover). The 6’7”, 225-pound Jackson has proven the potential to be an inside-out matchup problem as shown with 17 points (3-for-5 3PT) and seven rebounds in an early-season win at Georgetown. Playing a very poor rebounding team in Michigan, Jackson could have another big day. Ultimately the Terrapins need Trimble to lead statistically and vocally to be a threat in the Big Ten. A good place to start for Trimble will be wiping away the memories of a season-worst two-point performance last year in Ann Arbor (1-of-7 FG, four Turnovers).
Michigan will once again hope to recapture the magic that last January carried them over the then-#3 Terrapins in Crisler. In that contest F Zak Irvin went for 22 points while G Derrick Walton Jr. had a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. Both Irvin (13.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG) and Walton Jr. (12.5 PPG, 3.7 APG) return for their senior seasons in Ann Arbor hoping to make Michigan a serious contender for a Big Ten title. The Wolverines dropped a tough 86-83 contest in overtime at Iowa to start conference play but responded with a comeback win on Tuesday at home against Penn State, roaring back from a 13-point deficit to beat the Nittany Lions 72-69. Irvin and Walton Jr. combined for 20 of the Wolverines’ last 25 points. Supporting the two seniors forwards was Moritz Wagner and D.J. Wilson (26 points combined). While Irvin and Walton are the rudders of this team, the sophomore Wagner (11.6 PPG, 62% FG) and junior Wilson (10.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG) are the two components of Coach John Beilein’s team that can propel Michigan to reach their full potential as a team. The Wolverines haven’t had a scoring presence outside of their backcourt in years and, in Wagner (double-figures in nine of last 10 games) and Wilson (28 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists against Iowa), Michigan has two 6’10” players capable of breaking out on any given night to support their senior backcourt. Wilson and Wagner will have to consistently attack the glass as Michigan still struggles with rebounding (31.5 RPG, 320th in NCAA). Maryland isn’t a particularly strong team on the glass either, but unlike Michigan, Maryland doesn’t have the ability to win consistently while being outrebounded. Michigan is already getting by solidly with poor rebounding, they could be a serious contender in conference play if they can even out their -4 rebounding margin.