As Michigan head coach John Beilein said right after Saturday’s win against rival Michigan State, it’s time for a “quick turnaround”, leaving little time to embrace the win.
Just over 48 hours later, U-M’s (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten) next task is to build off of its largest win of the season with a victory over Maryland (14-5, 3-3) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night in the Crisler Center and will be aired on FS1.
The Terrapins have lost two of their last three games by more than 20 points, with its most recent loss coming to Ohio State last Thursday by a final score of 91-69.
As the opening tip approaches, here are some keys for U-M against the Terps.
Attacking the Terrapins - Maryland has struggled to defend teams in the Big Ten so far this season. In the early part of the conference season, the Terrapins are allowing 1.19 points per possessions which ranks dead last in the conference. MSU and OSU both scored 91 points on Maryland. The Terps are also allow more 3-pointers attempted and and allow the highest efficiency in the league on made triples. When you are playing a team like U-M, that is not a recipe for success. The Wolverines should be putting up plenty of 3-balls tonight.
Keeping up on defense - The Wolverines were outstanding against the Spartans on Saturday, forcing 18 turnovers which resulted in 26 points for the Wolverines. They were also only out-rebounded 32-31 against a Spartan team that has much more length inside than U-M has, while only allowing eight offensive rebounds. Both forcing turnovers and limiting second chance points for the Wolverines will be big for the remainder of the season. Tonight against Maryland, it’ll be no different. The Terps have a 51.1 percent effective field goal percentage which is sixth in the league and have made over 35.6 percent of their triples. The Terps have protected the ball better in league play, but are 293rd in the country on turnovers per possession on the season at 21.3 percent. An easy way to eliminate a solid offensive team is to take away chances.
Zavier Simpson’s consistency - Yes, the story of Saturday’s game was Mortiz Wagner having his best game since last March against Louisville by dropping 27 points on the Spartans. While his continued point scoring is important, how Zavier Simpson continues to play may be the most important role on the team. He has now scored over 15 points in his last three games and has been arguably one of the best defenders on Beilein’s best defense since 2002. Tonight, he gets Anthony Cowan who is one of the top point guards in the Big Ten. He shoots a 38 percent clip from beyond the arc and gets to the line a lot, shooting 67 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts. When Simpson is playing well, this Wolverine team has followed (much like Beilein’s teams in the past) and tonight he is up against another tall order.
Game status - After a one-point loss to Purdue and an emotional/convincing win against the Spartans in East Lansing, the Wolverines have received a lot of love this week. They are now ranked No. 23 in the latest AP Top-25 poll, which is their first appearance on the list this season. On short rest, the way U-M plays tonight will say a lot about who this team is. If they win, the win from MSU carries on and this team will really gain some national believers, but a loss could quickly erase a large win and leave people wondering how consistent they can truly be. The Wolverines are eight-point favorites and that seems about right considering a quick turnaround game against a solid opponent. It’s a big game for U-M to protect its home court and show more of the identity they gained Saturday — a gritty group.