The No. 9 Michigan Wolverines will travel to Maryland to face off against the No. 17 Maryland Terrapins on Sunday afternoon.
The Wolverines are seeking their second win versus the Terps this season, as on February 16, they took home the 65-52 win at Crisler Center. Here is a preview, and a prediction for this battle between these two teams.
What: No. 9 Michigan (25-4, 14-4) vs. No. 17 Maryland (21-8, 12-6)
When: Sunday, March 3, 3:45 PM EST on CBS
Where: Xfinity Center; College Park, MD
Keys to Victory for Michigan
The Wolverines have the best defensive efficiency rating according to Ken Pom. Michigan’s opponents are scoring 58.2 points-per-game which is atop in the Big Ten and third lowest in the country.
As the distributor on offense, Zavier Simpson has recorded four games with 10-plus assists this season. If he can pass the ball similar to his 10-assist nights, then the Wolverines will have a deadly floor general who finds open shots for himself and others. Additionally, he has not missed a single game during his time at U-M. This toughness does not go unnoticed by his teammates.
Scoring off turnovers is one of the ways opposing teams can counter Michigan’s top-notch defense. Therefore, limiting turnovers will secure a Michigan victory. However, when the Wolverines do get sloppy with the ball, other teams can ignite a comeback or grow their lead.
On the offensive side, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews need to continue being the spark for Michigan. Matthews missed last game with an injury but will likely play tomorrow. Ignas “Iggy” Brazdeikis will also be a significant factor in this matchup as he is the Wolverines’ leading scorer, averaging 14.6 points-per-game. This Big Three on offense will absorb the workload and should each score around 15-points to guarantee a Michigan win.
Keys to Victory for Maryland
Scoring off turnovers is helpful for the Terps because it enables them to rack up points before the Wolverines can set up their defensive schemes. Moving on, Maryland’s standout players are Anthony Cowan Jr. (15.9 ppg and 4.4 apg) and Bruno Fernando (14.2 ppg and 10.5 rpg).
In the previous meeting, Maryland struggled with getting Fernando rolling. Bruno was unimpactful in the first half which resulted in Michigan’s significant halftime lead. But in the second half, he began scoring efficiently and dominated the rest of the match.
Next, since Anthony Cowan Jr. is managing the Terps in assists, he must find his teammates and warm them up, so they can have a tremendous impact on the game.
Therefore, Maryland’s fate lies in the hands of Cowan and Fernando. Paired with solid defense from their team, these two can then focus on scoring and passing to give the Terps a chance at pulling off an upset.
All in all, everything must be perfect for Maryland to win. Bruno Fernando needs to have a career night against a top defense. Also, the Terps’ home court advantage will disturb the Wolverines as they are not known to perform at their best on the road (Ex. at Penn State).
In the end, Maryland will stay close with the Wolverines for around 34 minutes. Then, because John Beilein faced this team earlier in the season, he will make the correct adjustments for the Maize and Blue to leave College Park victorious.
Final Score: Michigan 63 – Maryland 52
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