The Michigan Wolverines fell to 19-12 to end the 2019-20 regular season on Sunday in a road loss at Maryland by a score of 83-70. They have clinched the nine seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play on Thursday at noon in Indianapolis against Rutgers. The victory helped Maryland claim a share of the Big Ten title, its first since joining the conference in 2014-15.
Freshman forward Franz Wagner led the team in scoring with 15 points. Zavier Simpson had 13 points and six assists. Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith and Eric Ayala were too much to overcome combining for 57 of Maryland’s points on Sunday afternoon in College Park.
The Wolverines went through some signature lapses in offense throughout and went into the locker room down 13. They were able to get the lead down to three in the second half, but as has become the case this season, their opponents would counterpunch and ultimately walk out of the second half leading by as much as they did going into it.
The Terrapins were 8-for-20 from three on the day, but six of those makes came from Ayala and Aaron Wiggins, two players who were not known for their abilities from the perimeter coming into this one.
Here are some takeaways from the contest.
- Wagner has finally come into his own and now appears to be this team’s best all-around player. That includes when Isaiah Livers is healthy, but he has not quite been himself in the last few games, either. But Wagner defends well and his offense has been developing for well over a month now. A huge postseason may create a conversation about what his future at Michigan may be, as well.
- Livers needs to play well for this team to reach its ceiling, and that sort of goes without saying at this point but we will say it anyways. He has looked like he has been fighting things off a bit and maybe a few extra days of rest will be beneficial for him.
- Michigan could also use a bit of a return to form from Eli Brooks, who has struggled to provide consistent offense since wearing the mask to protect the broken nose.
- Let’s talk about the defense, which again had a rough day. Ayala and Wiggins going off is unexpected, and certainly falls into the “it just be that way sometimes” category of things that happen in basketball. That said, Michigan has regressed a bit there since their recent hot streak cooled off and they seem just a step slower in getting to the perimeter. I’m really interested in seeing how the Big Ten Tournament plays out to see if this is a fluke or a legitimate concern. But three of the last four games featuring these issues isn’t something to write off.
- The officiating in this game was kind of dumb in a few spots. It is not why Michigan lost, but there were sequences in the second half that were questionable and led to a burst from Maryland to extend the lead. We do not blame officials here, but anyone that says that they don’t have an effect on the game should go back and watch the tape. Michigan did not play well enough to win, but some of the whistles may have prevented them from completing the comeback or at least have it be a closer game in the end. And the flagrant on Simpson for pulling a jersey (again) is atrocious.
- On to Indy. On to March. On to the Madness.
Michigan will play Rutgers on Thursday at noon and should they win, they would play No. 1 seed Wisconsin on Friday at noon. Those games will be broadcast via Big Ten Network.