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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Michigan preview

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The Terps hope to stop their road slide.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland basketball hits the road again on Monday to square off with Michigan. The Terps hope to stop somewhat of a slide after losing two of their last three, with both losses coming on the road.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon has to rally his troops after getting blown out by Ohio State in Columbus. The Terps put up minimal fight and fell to 3-3 in Big Ten play as a result. Maryland may still only have eight scholarship players, but will have to put up a much better fight against the Wolverines.

Michigan is playing the Terps on just one day of rest after beating in-state foe Michigan State in the Breslin Center. It was only the third time the Wolverines had ever won in East Lansing, and they did so on the back of a career-high 27 points from Moritz Wagner. Michigan’s two conference losses come from Purdue and Ohio State, two teams that have also handed Maryland losses this season.

The Terps tip off in Ann Arbor on Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

Michigan Wolverines (15-4, 4-2 B1G)

2016-17 record: 26-12, 10-8

Head coach John Beilein once again has the Wolverines firmly in the second tier of the conference, after finishing sixth in the Big Ten a year ago. After entering the conference tournament as the No. 8 seed, Michigan won four games in four days to walk away with the tournament title before losing in the Sweet 16 to Oregon. Beilein is just 1-4 against the Terrapins in his decade of experience as Michigan’s coach.

Players to know

Charles Matthews, sophomore, forward, 6’6/200, No. 1. Matthews has broken out as Michigan’s top scorer after transferring from Kentucky following his freshman year. The former four-star recruit sat out last season due to NCAA rules and has averaged 15.3 points, five rebounds and a little under three assists a game.

Moritz Wagner, junior, center, 6’11/245, No. 13. The German native eschewed the draft last season for another season as a crucial cog in Ann Arbor. Wagner is Michigan’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder with 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds a night, and his .400 three-point shooting clip is the best of any Wolverine that takes at least three triples a game.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, senior, guard, 6’4/190, No. 12. The senior is a double-digit scorer for the first time in his four-year career, averaging 10.9 points a contest, albeit on a career-low .411 field goal percentage. Abdur-Rahkman is just seven points away from being Beilein’s 10th player to notch 1,000 career points.

Strengths

Ball security. While Maryland’s ball security has trended in the right direction since the start of conference play, Michigan has excelled at ball control all season. The Wolverines have one of the 15 lowest turnover rates in the country, and only 6.4 percent of their offensive possessions end in a steal, according to KenPom.

Weaknesses

Free throws. Some of Michigan’s biggest weaknesses lie in getting to the free throw line and converting its attempts. Beilein’s squad ranks No. 307 in free throws made and No. 290 in free throws attempted, hitting just 66.1 percent of tries from the charity stripe. Only 13.9 percent of the Wolverines’ points come off of free throws, which ranks 345th of 351 Division I teams.

Three things to watch

  1. Will Dion Wiley play? Wiley suffered from a concussion at the beginning of the second half against Iowa and missed the game against Ohio State. Turgeon affirmed that Wiley will take the trip to Ann Arbor, but it’s doubtful that the redshirt junior will play. If he can’t go, that means another game with just eight scholarship players for Mark Turgeon.
  2. Which Bruno Fernando will we see? It feels safe to say that the Terps need Fernando to show up if they’re going to have a shot to win. After winning conference freshman of the week honors for the first week of January, Fernando only finished with just two points and three rebounds in 16 minutes against the Buckeyes. After the game, Turgeon said he, Fernando and Michal Cekovsky were all on antibiotics, but Maryland needs Fernando at full strength for this one.
  3. Can Maryland bounce back? It’s still too early to say this is a must-win, but a win here is crucial for Maryland’s confidence heading forward. The Terps have two embarrassing road losses to Ohio State and Michigan State, and a third could be demoralizing.

Predictions

KenPom: Michigan wins, 70-63

Me: Michigan wins, 72-68