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Maryland women’s basketball at Michigan preview

The Terps hit the road to begin a crucial four-game stretch.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Purdue at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball secured a much-needed victory Saturday against Illinois, pushing its conference record to 4-3. The Terps scored 90 points, their highest total since early December, thanks to 42 combined points from Bri McDaniel and Jakia Brown-Turner.

Now, the Terps are set to begin their toughest stretch of the season, starting with a road matchup against Michigan.

Wednesday’s game will begin at 7 p.m. and stream on Big Ten Plus.

Michigan Wolverines (13-6, 4-3 Big Ten)

2022-23 record: 23-10, 11-7 Big Ten

Kim Barnes Arico is in her 12th season leading the Wolverines, standing as the winningest coach in program history. Under her direction, Michigan has six NCAA Tournament appearances, with at least one postseason victory each time. Barnes Arico has been honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (2017 and 2022).

The Wolverines have fared similarly to the Terps this season, also sitting at 4-3 in the conference. They’re 1-2 against ranked opponents, but they took down then-No. 17 Ohio State, 69-60.

Players to know

Laila Phelia, junior guard, 6-foot, No. 5 — Phelia was named to both the Wooden and Naismith Award preseason watch lists. True to expectations, the three-year starter has paced the Wolverines to the tune of 15.8 points per game. She also leads the team with 24 steals.

Lauren Hansen, graduate guard, 5-foot-9, No. 1 — Starting every game this season, the Missouri transfer has made a significant impact, ranking second on the team with over 11 points per game. Additionally, her 42 assists lead the Wolverines.

Jordan Hobbs, junior guard, 6-foot-3, No. 10 — Enjoying a breakout junior campaign, Hobbs ranks top three on the team in points per game (8.7) and second in both total assists (40) and total rebounds (72).

Strength

Defense. Despite averaging fewer blocks per game than their opponents and securing only 38.1 rebounds per game, the Wolverines boast the best scoring defense in the Big Ten, allowing an average of just 57.8 points per game.

Weakness

Shooting. Michigan’s team field-goal percentage (42.1%) and 3-point percentage (35.3%) both rank in the bottom half of the conference.

Three things to watch

1. Can McDaniel keep up her strong play? McDaniel has notched 15 or more points in the Terps’ last four games, starting to look like the Terps’ No. 1 scoring option even when Shyanne Sellers is on the court. However, Michigan’s formidable defense will present a tough challenge for the sophomore guard.

2. Late-game situations. If a defensive battle is on the horizon, as it appears to be, Maryland will need to execute late, which plagued it recently against Ohio State.

3. Is the shortened rotation sustainable? In Saturday’s win over Illinois, Emily Fisher, the Terps’ third player off the bench, played only five minutes. It remains to be seen whether head coach Brenda Frese will persist in allocating significant minutes to select players during this grueling four-game stretch, which will see Maryland welcome Indiana and Iowa to College Park next week.