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Maryland men’s lacrosse vs. Michigan preview

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The No. 3 Terps look to bounce back against the Wolverines.

Maryland men’s lacrosse Bubba Fairman vs. Richmond Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland men’s lacrosse’s homestand is coming to an end on Saturday when the Terps host Michigan, ending a four-week stretch of games played at Maryland Stadium.

The No. 3 Terps have gone 2-1 during their run of games at home, beating Villanova and North Carolina before falling to Penn State last weekend. Still, Maryland can finish the stretch 3-1 and move to 7-1 at home this season.

Due to Michigan’s brief history as a Division I program, these teams have only met five times, all coming since 2012 (the Terps have won all five matchups). Maryland had to travel to Ann Arbor last season, beating the Wolverines 13-5 in a game where Bubba Fairman and Logan Wisnauskas each had hat tricks.

Saturday’s game begins at 2 p.m. ET and, like all of Maryland’s Big Ten games this season, will be televised on BTN.

Michigan Wolverines (3-6, 0-1 Big Ten)

2018 record: 8-6, 1-4

Head coach Kevin Conry isn’t seeing as much success as he did in his debut season as lead man for the Wolverines, although Michigan has faced three top-20 teams during its non-conference schedule. Conry is also a former Tillman staffer, serving as Maryland’s defensive coordinator and associate head coach from 2012 through 2017’s national title run.

Players to know

Sophomore attack Alex Buckanavage (No. 42) broke out as Michigan’s leading goal and point scorer in 2019, notching a team-best 35 points on 20 goals and 15 assists. Buckanavage is slightly undersized at 5’9, but he weighs in at 185 pounds and uses his size well to act as an efficient scorer for the Wolverines.

Senior defenseman Nick DeCaprio (No. 12) is Michigan’s strongest player on the defensive side of the field, and he’s the veteran member of the unit. With 15 caused turnovers and 22 ground balls, DeCaprio does a bit of everything to help make this defense run.

Sophomore attack Kevin Mack (No. 9) is Michigan’s other talented sophomore attack, with Conry asking him to a lot of the same things as Buckanavage offensively: score and create for others. And like his counterpart, Mack has been able to do so, scoring 15 goals and dishing 14 assists in nine starts.

Strength

Causing turnovers. Although the Terps have generally been good with the ball so far this season, they’ll need to be on their A-game Saturday. Michigan ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 17 in the country in caused turnovers per game, with DeCaprio helping lead that effort. Forcing 9.56 giveaways per contest, Michigan can really take advantage of teams that are sloppy with the ball.

Weakness

Faceoffs. In what should be a nice departure from what the combo of Austin Henningsen and Justin Shockey had to manage last weekend, Michigan struggles at the faceoff X. Seven different players have taken a least one draw for the Wolverines, and they’ve combined to win only 38 percent of faceoffs. For a team like Maryland that can string together goal after goal if it gets possession off multiple consecutive faceoff wins, one big run could be enough to put this one away early.

Three things to watch

1. How will Maryland handle Michigan’s diversity of scorers? Part of what can make Michigan difficult to defend is its litany of goal scorers that are on the field every possession. Six different Wolverines have scored double-digit goals, which can create problems across the board for defenses.

“I think it’s different every week, some weeks you have one that you kinda focus on a little more and this week I think their top six and their offense as a whole is really talented,” senior long stick midfield Nick Brozowski said. “I think just not locking in on one guy, understanding that being off-ball players is almost more important than being on the ball.”

2. Can Maryland regroup after last weekend’s loss? Maryland’s loss at home to Penn State is one that will likely stick in the Terps’ minds for the rest of this season. But John Tillman said earlier this week that his guys are motivated for this week’s matchup, and whether or not his words hold true will be determined on Saturday.

3. Will Logan Wisnauskas bounce back? The sophomore has fully embraced his role as one of the primary offensive players for the Terps, sitting just a point behind Jared Bernhardt for the team lead with 48 this season. However, Penn State’s defense held him to his second-lowest point total of the season with just two. Maryland’s offense is at its best when Bernhardt and Wisnauskas can attract attention away from the other, and will need Wisnauskas to stay aggressive to keep it functioning at a high level.