The Michigan Wolverines (22-3) are looking to bounce back after their embarrassment at Penn State earlier in the week while they host the Maryland Terrapins (19-6) in a game with high Big Ten implications.
Maryland is just one game back of Michigan in the Big Ten standings as they look to beat ranked opponents two games in a row after their latest win over Purdue. Here is the preview and prediction for Michigan Basketball vs. Maryland…
What: Michigan Wolverines (6) vs. Maryland Terrapins (24)
When: Saturday, February 16 at 12:00 PM EST
Where: Crisler Center, The University of Michigan
Keys to Victory for Michigan:
Michigan is 5-3 in their last eight games and they are in desperate need of a solid win. The defense has been the only consistent thing for this team while their offense has been suspect at best.
It will be imperative for the Wolverines to find some rhythm on offense to avoid losing back to back games for the first time this season. Charles Matthews has finally started to pick it back up after going through a tough stretch but the rest of Michigan’s playmakers have been struggling.
Ignas Brazdeikis has scored just eight points in the last two games combined and Jordan Poole has shot 3-14 in the past two games from beyond the arc. Each of these guys will need to step up and start scoring like they were at the beginning of the year for Michigan to win against a solid defensive team in Maryland.
Those aren’t the only two players struggling. Michigan has only scored over 70 points once in the last seven games which isn’t even close to where they were at the beginning of the season. Something has to break for this team if they want to make another run in the NCAA tournament.
Maryland is actually a very similar team to Michigan. They play great defense and rely on a steady output of scoring from three of their starters. Junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. leads the way for the Terrapins averaging 16 a game.
Zavier Simpson will have his hands full but he is more than capable of shutting down Maryland’s leading scorer. He will need to bring his best in order to give Michigan the edge.
Other than Cowan Jr. Maryland has plenty of weapons that can hurt the Wolverines. They will need a collective team effort on the defensive end in order to take care of business on their home floor.
If Michigan is able to get it going offensively and play sound defense as a unit, they should get a much needed win at home.
Keys to Victory for Maryland:
Maryland is coming off of a big win over 12th ranked Purdue earlier in the week. Their Defense has been outstanding of late and they will look to keep that going against a Michigan team struggling to score points.
The biggest key for Maryland will be to keep Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis from heating up. As mentioned, both players have been struggling, but they are the type of players that just need one or two to go in before they get a massive boost in confidence.
If Maryland lets either of these guys get hot early, they might be in for a rude awakening.
Offensively, Maryland will have their hands full against Michigan’s defense. Penn State was able to shoot 40% from three against Michigan which is a big reason why they got upset. If Maryland can connect from outside, it will open up plenty of space in the middle for them to score in the paint.
Another way to beat the Wolverine defense is to limit the turnovers. Penn State only turned the ball over 12 times which really helped them keep Michigan from getting out in transition. Making threes and taking care of the ball are keys to beating any good defense, especially one like Michigan.
I expect Michigan to come out ready to play after a horrible performance against Penn State, so it will be important for Maryland to come out of the gate ready. Letting Michigan go on a big run early could be the confidence they need to get back to their early season form.
If Maryland can continue to shut down Brazdeikis and Poole, and hit shots from the outside, they will have a great shot to win back-to-back games against ranked opponents.
Preview and Prediction:
I fully expect this to be a competitive game. Both teams take pride in their defense and offer a balanced attack on offense. They each have a lot on the line as Michigan desperately needs to bounce back and Maryland has their eyes on the top spot in the Big Ten.
I can’t imagine Michigan will play as bad as they did against Penn State, and they have elevated their play in big games all year long. Throw in the fact that they haven’t lost at home and I don’t see Maryland coming out of Ann Arbor with a win on Saturday.
It will be a back and forth game but ultimately, as they have so many times this season, Michigan will feed of their home crowd and put the Terrapins away late in the game.
Final Score: Michigan 67 – Maryland 62
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