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Takeaways from Michigan’s blowout win over Maryland

Michigan made turtle soup out of the Terps.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Michigan Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

That was pretty much the best way for the Michigan Wolverines to kick off 2023, as they absolutely thrashed the Maryland Terrapins, 81-46, and improved to 2-0 in Big Ten play.

Entering this game, the Terrapins were 10-3 and won their first eight games of the season, capped off with a 71-66 victory over Illinois. Their three losses heading into the game were to Wisconsin, No. 7 Tennessee, and a blowout to No. 16 UCLA.

They won’t finish the year towards the top of the Big Ten by any means, but they’re not a slouch of an opponent either, and Michigan wiped the floor with them.

Here are some takeaways from the blowout.

You have to love that hot start

That first half was the best half of basketball Michigan has played all season long, as it held Maryland to the same amount of points in that first half (13) as the football team did back in September.

Here are some fun stats to show how dominant Michigan’s 44-13 first half was:

-Michigan opened the game on a 17-0 run. They didn’t miss a shot until the 14:34 mark.
-Maryland first field goal of the game came with 12:09 to play, almost eight minutes into the game.
-Maryland’s first point came at the 14:12 mark.
-Maryland only made one of its first 17 shots, while Michigan made 11 of its first 18.
-Those 13 points from Maryland? The fewest amount of points allowed by Michigan in a half in program history.

So, yeah, that wasn’t a great way to start the year for the Terrapins.

Halves like this are why Michigan was ranked in the top 25 to start this season: Michigan scored in bunches, relied on its All-American center and turned defense into offense (18 points off turnovers in the first alone).

We can’t expect Michigan to play this well — or their opponents to play this badly — to start any game. That said, this one goes to show that good things happen when you make your first few shots and start off fast.

Speaking of the All-American center...

Hunter Dickinson has got his swagger back

In the loss to CMU, Michigan’s All-American center didn’t look like himself at all. Based on his history with the Maryland program, this game was the perfect time for Dickinson to get his swagger back.

Saying Dickinson was dominant in this one would be an understatement. He finished with a season-high 32 points and made 13 of his 16 shots to go along with 12 rebounds. He did whatever he wanted in the paint and around the rim. Dickinson (18 points) outscored the Terrapins in that first half by himself.

This isn’t the first time Dickinson has made turtle soup out of the Terps. In his first game against them his freshman year, he scored 26 points (his second-highest point total of that season) and had 11 rebounds. Last season, he posted 21 points and six boards against them.

He’s not going to play like this every game, but it’s nice to see him bounce back after a poor performance over CMU. When he’s playing this good, Michigan can beat any team in the country.

We may be in for another roller coaster of a season

While this win is great and all, it’s hard to forget that just four days ago, Michigan lost at home to a MAC school that was 4-8 entering the game. To win by that large of a margin after that big of a loss is a huge confidence boost for a young Michigan team desperately in need of one.

You can’t expect your opponents to come out completely cold and shoot 26.5% from the field every game, but Michigan did have a solid performance defensively in this one. Couple that with Dickinson’s dominance, excellent ball movement and solid three-point shooting and all of a sudden, this is a pretty good basketball team.

In order for the Wolverines to get back into the NCAA Tournament picture, they have to stay consistent and put together a few more of these dominant performances. The low energy woe-is-me squad from Thursday’s loss can’t be seen again.

What’s next

Michigan’s got two more Big Ten games later this week, against Penn State at home on Jan. 4 (7 p.m. tip-off) and then Michigan State on the road three days later (2:30 p.m. tip-off).

Michigan needs to keep playing well in these Big Ten games, but it is off to a great start. Through two games of conference play, the Wolverines has scored 171 points while only allowing their opponents to score 121.

It’s important to note that Minnesota and Maryland aren’t exactly the cream of the crop in the conference, but hopefully the fire lit under this team after the CMU loss stays ablaze for a while.