Michigan is a tough team to get a grasp of. The Wolverines' only conference loss was at ranked Purdue, and their other three losses on the year were to ranked SMU, ranked UConn and Xavier. They have beaten N.C. State and Texas, two teams that are certainly not push-overs. But if you take a closer look, Michigan seems to be struggling to find a balance this year. They can either play pretty well or pretty poorly. For example, in their games against ranked teams, they lost by 14 (home vs. UConn), 24 (at SMU) and 17 (at Purdue). Which Michigan team is Maryland going to see tonight?
Michigan has a stingy defense, allowing only 62.6 points per game. That total is good enough to put Michigan in the top-20 in the country in scoring defense. While their defense might be solid, Michigan can be exposed inside. Purdue was able to beat Michigan in large part due to their huge frontcourt. Michigan is a very bad rebounding team. Their 33.1 rebounds per game is ranked 313th in the country. Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. should be able to take advantage of Michigan inside. They can each score with a variety of moves in the post and can both rebound the ball.
Let's talk about Maryland and Michigan's best players. Michigan's leading scorer and do-it-all player is Caris LeVert but he's been out for the past two games with a lower left leg injury. LeVert averages 17.6 points per game on 51 percent shooting from the field, 5.2 assists per game and 5.4 rebounds per game. He leads the team in what are basically three of the most important areas. They are not the same team without their standout guard.
Melo Trimble just wrote the latest chapter in his Maryland career that is starting to become lore. He knocked down a game-winning three in the final seconds to beat Wisconsin on the road. Because Maryland is so balanced offensively, Melo doesn't have to handle the scoring by himself. However, with the game on the line, he stepped up when his team needed him the most. Big Ten road games aren't easy, and Michigan will be energized for a late game on national TV in front of their home fans.
Maryland should win this game because they have more talent, they're deeper and they can take advantage of Michigan's biggest weakness on defense. I should also note that if Maryland thinks bringing eight guys to Ann Arbor will be enough, they'll probably be in for another tough game.
Rankings and records:
No. 3 Maryland (15-1, 4-0)
Michigan (12-4, 2-1)
Vegas: As of Monday evening, Maryland is a one-point favorite.
How to witness
Date, time and location:
January 12th at 9:00 p.m. ET
Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: ESPN. Mike Tirico will be on the call with Dick Vitale providing color commentary. Allison Williams will be the sideline reporter.
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network - Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play) and Chris Knoche (Analyst); Westwood One - Scott Graham (Play-by-Play) and Doug Gottlieb (Analyst); Flagships - WJZ-FM (105.7) / WJZ-AM (1300) / ESPN 980 (D.C.) Sirius 84, XM 84, WMUC Sports
Online streaming: WatchESPN