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No. 17 Maryland women’s basketball vs No. 24 Michigan preview

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The Terps face the Wolverines for the second time this season.

Michigan v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

After suffering a tough loss at Iowa, No. 17 Maryland women’s basketball is back in action as it faces No. 24 Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan Sunday.

Both teams enter the contest with 11-4 (2-2) records, and are coming off road losses to conference opponents.

The Teps fell 66-61 to the Hawkeyes on Thursday evening, while the Wolverines suffered a 78-69 defeat at the hands of Ohio State. Both teams will have a chance to redeem themselves after just two days of rest.

Tipoff is set for noon ET and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

What happened last time

Just ahead of the new year, Maryland hosted then-No. 23 Michigan at Xfinity Center and was able to ride a strong defensive effort to a 70-55 victory.

Senior Kaila Charles led all players with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while she was also one of five Terps to record at least two steals. Shakira Austin, Stephanie Jones and Ashley Owusu each added 10 points as well in the effort.

The Terps scored 25 points off 23 Wolverine turnovers while only turning the ball over 14 times. They also won the rebounding battle, 43-35.

Maryland was able to coast into the half with a six-point lead, but used a 28-17 fourth quarter run to create solid separation down the stretch and pull out the win.

What has happened since

The road for Maryland has been very up and down since beating Michigan.

The Terps went on the road on New Years Eve and fell 81-58 to Northwestern in the first shocking loss of the season. Returning home, they took down Ohio State, 72-62, but then went back on the road and failed to come back against Iowa.

The Wolverines looked to build themselves up after falling to Florida State and Maryland in back-to-back games. They clobbered Penn State, 82-48, and Michigan State, 89-69, at home, but most recently fell to Ohio State, 78-69, in Columbus on Thursday.

Three things to watch

1. Will the shooters become a factor? For Maryland, scoring from outside the paint has been one of the more surprising weaknesses down the stretch this season. Sharpshooters Blair Watson and Taylor Mikesell have combined to shoot 73-for-184 from three-point range — a mark of 39.7 percent. Over the last two games though, the duo has made a mere 4-of-32 shots from deep.

The Terps have countered that lack of scoring by creating offensive chances in the paint and using its size as an advantage, but there comes a point when the offense needs to diversify its output in order to keep defenses honest.

2. Can Maryland start fast? So far this season, the Terps have struggled to jump out of the gate and dominate from the opening whistle — against any similar competition.

Since Big Ten play began, Maryland has combined for a -19 point-differential across four games — only leading against Michigan by six. This team has showed fight and played until the end of each game, but ultimately will need to find motivation other than trailing in order to be consistently successful.

3. Will the Terps be able to right the ship? With four losses, including two within conference play, it has truly turned into a crunch-time situation for Brenda Frese and her team, who started the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25.

A win against No. 23 Michigan may help the Terps from continuing to free fall down the poll as the team starts a daunting stretch. After facing the Wolverines, Maryland returns home to face Nebraska — a team that has received AP Poll votes — and No. 12 Indiana.

The rest of the Big Ten schedule also includes rematches with Ohio State, Northwestern and Iowa — which will stand as chances for revenge.