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Maryland men’s basketball at Michigan preview

The Terps play their first of nine January Big Ten games on New Year’s Day.

UMBC Retrievers v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Maryland men’s basketball kicks off the new year with a Big Ten showdown, traveling to take on Michigan on Jan. 1 at 4:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

The Terps stand at 10-3 after beating UMBC, 80-64, on Thursday night. They struggled to shoot the ball and let the Retrievers hang around, but 19 points from graduate guard Don Carey were enough to lead them to victory.

When the calendar flips to January, that means one thing in college basketball: it’s time for conference play to kick into full gear. Sunday’s game is the first of 18 remaining conference matchups for Maryland — nine in the month of January alone — which will determine not only where it stands in the Big Ten, but in the NCAA Tournament conversation as well.

Michigan Wolverines (7-5, 1-0 Big Ten)

Under John Beilein, Michigan was a perennial power in the Big Ten, on multiple occasions playing for a national championship. When Beilien left for the NBA and former Michigan star player Juwan Howard was tabbed as his replacement, the Wolverines didn’t take a step back, making the Elite Eight in 2021 and turning what looked to be a disappointing season into a Sweet 16 appearance in 2022.

This year, though, things appear to be different. Howard’s fourth season has been anything but inspiring, his team’s most recent result a 63-61 loss to Central Michigan. Losses to Virginia at home and on a neutral court to Kentucky are excusable, but even the wins haven’t been convincing, with victories over Ohio and Eastern Michigan coming in less-than-commanding fashion. The Wolverines still have the potential to put together a decent season and make the NCAA Tournament, but as things currently stand, they are on the outside looking in.

Players to know

Hunter Dickinson, junior center, 7-foot-1, No. 1 — Maryland fans are plenty familiar with Dickinson because of his willingness to talk about his ill will toward the program, but on the court, he is undoubtedly Michigan’s best player. The 2021 consensus All-American is a force for opponents to handle and is one of the most difficult players to match up against in the Big Ten. This season, he leads the Wolverines with 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

Jett Howard, freshman guard, 6-foot-8, No. 13 — Jett Howard is far more than just the son of Michigan’s head coach — he is one of the best freshmen in the country. After coming in as a top-40 high school recruit, Howard has instantly made an impact for a Michigan team with uncertainty at the guard position, averaging over 15 points per game and knocking down 3-pointers at a higher rate than anyone else seeing meaningful playing time. His 6-foot-8 frame allows him to play less as a true guard and more as a wing, which should provide an intriguing matchup with similarly sized Maryland guard Hakim Hart.

Kobe Bufkin, sophomore guard, 6-foot-4, No. 2 — With graduate transfer Jaelin Llewellyn out for the season, more responsibility falls on sophomore Kobe Bufkin to lead the Wolverines in the backcourt. Bufkin has jumped into a starting role this year and is performing well, averaging 12.7 points and over 2.5 assists per game. He looks to be a good player for Michigan both this year and moving forward.


Limiting turnovers. According to, Michigan has the nation’s second-best offensive turnover percentage. Maryland has stressed the importance of turning over opponents all season, but that will prove to be a difficult challenge against a sure-handed Wolverines squad. They also have the second-best non-steal turnover percentage in the country.


Offensive rebounding. While KenPom praises Michigan’s ability to limit turnovers, it does quite the opposite for its offensive rebounding ability. The site ranks the Wolverines as the No. 310 offensive rebounding team in the nation, but Maryland has struggled on the boards and doesn’t have a proven big to push Dickinson around. Limiting second-chance opportunities will be key for the Terps.

Three things to watch

1. Three-point shooting. Maryland head coach Kevin Willard has repeated on multiple occasions that he believes Maryland is a good shooting team. Still, the results haven’t backed that up, with only a few games providing confidence that the Terps can knock down 3-pointers with consistency. Carey, who epitomized Maryland’s struggles from beyond the arc through the first 12 games, did heat up in the team’s last game against UMBC, though, knocking down five triples. If he gets going, the Terps’ shooting fortunes could be more promising.

2. Reese vs. Dickinson. Sophomore forward Julian Reese returned to Maryland’s rotation after missing a game and a half with a shoulder injury but couldn’t get much going on the offensive end, only scoring from the free-throw line. Now, he’ll be thrown right back into the fire, facing one of the nation’s best centers in Hunter Dickinson. If Reese can hold his own on New Year’s Day, it would be a big boost for the Terps.

3. Terps on the road. Maryland has played five games away from College Park this season. The first three were easy wins, blowing out Saint Louis and Miami before handling a struggling Louisville team in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terps’ other two non-home games were a loss at Wisconsin and a neutral-court defeat to Tennessee. This year, Michigan doesn’t look the same team that program has become accustomed to, but going on the road is never easy; KenPom projects just a one-point win for the Terps despite them being ranked 41 spots higher than the Wolverines.