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Maryland vs. Michigan preview: Terps look to continue winning streak vs. Wolverines

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Michigan will have a full week of rest, but might be missing its best player.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland men's basketball is off to a program-record 15-1 start, and can make it 10 wins in a row with a victory at Michigan Tuesday night. The No. 3 Terrapins barely escaped with a win over Wisconsin Saturday thanks to a Melo Trimble three with 1.2 seconds left in the game. They might have a much easier time against the Wolverines.

It looks like Maryland will face a Michigan squad that will be missing its best player in guard Caris LeVert. The senior leads his team in points, assists and rebounds per game, but coach John Beilein said Monday he's "not optimistic" about LeVert's chances of playing in Tuesday's 9 p.m. tip-off, which will be televised on ESPN. LeVert has missed the team's last two games with a leg injury.

Michigan Wolverines (12-4, 2-1 Big Ten)

The coach

John Beilein, in his ninth year as head coach of the Wolverines. He's 471-289 in his career, 178-144 at Michigan. His previous stops as a head coach came at West Virginia, Richmond and Casinius.

Players to watch

Caris LeVert, senior, guard, 6'7, 23. Even if he won't be playing (which is not a certainty), you can't talk about Michigan without talking about Caris LeVert. As mentioned above, he leads the team in points, assists and rebounds per game, and he'll be sorely missed if he can't suit up.

Duncan Robinson, sophomore, guard/forward, 6'8, No. 22. If LeVert can't go, Robinson is Michigan's next best option. He's been a marksman from three-point range, connecting on 56 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. The transfer from Division III Williams College has adapted well to the D-I game after sitting out last season, scoring 11.8 points per game. However, almost all of his shots are three-pointers, as six of his seven shots per game come from downtown.

Derrick Walton, junior, guard 6'0, No. 10. He's split his attempts from inside and outside the arc almost evenly, but Walton is making 52 percent from three-point range and only 36 from inside. He and Robinson could be a tough combination for the Terps to handle if they get on a roll.

Strengths

Three-point shooting. At 43 percent, the Wolverines have the ninth-best three-point shooting percentage in the nation. They'll miss LeVert, and not just because he shoots 45 percent from three. Since he leads the team in assists, and since so many of Michigan's points come on threes, losing him has to have an effect there. Also, Maryland won't have to focus their defenders on LeVert, which means they can stay tighter on Michigan's shooters.

Keeping possession. Michigan just does not give the ball away. The Wolverines have the No. 10 offensive turnover percentage in the country, which helps them make up for their lack of offensive rebounding. Turnovers have been an issue for Maryland all season, as the Terps don't force many turnovers but give the ball up often.

Weaknesses

Getting to the line. The Wolverines knock down 70 percent of their shots once they get to the free throw stripe, but they don't get there often. Michigan ranks 343rd in the nation in free throw rating, which measures how many of a team's total points come from free throws, and how often they make them.

No front court presence. You may have noticed that all of the "players to know" were guards. That's because only one rotation player for the Wolverines is above 6'9. The team has a lack of height and a lack of production from its big men. Wisconsin came in with a somewhat similar scouting report, but the Badgers had been grabbing rebounds all season. The Wolverines? Not so much. They hold their own on the defensive end, where they're ranked 36th in rebounding percentage, but rank 301st on the offensive end. They also block 6.5 percent of their opponents' shots, which could mean another big day for Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr.

KenPom's prediction: Maryland wins, 71-70. Terrapins have 52 percent chance of victory.

Ryan's prediction: Maryland wins, 75-64