You probably watched Tuesday’s game between Maryland men’s basketball and Michigan, in which the Wolverines pulled off the upset at home. On Thursday night, the women’s teams from the same two schools will square off in the exact same building. The game starts at 6:00 and will be televised on Big Ten Network.
Both the Terps and Wolverines will enter the Crisler Center on the heels of two-game winning streaks. Maryland blew out Nebraska and Iowa last week, while Michigan overtook Iowa and Minnesota.
Seniors are a scarcity on this Michigan team, which lost 3 starters from the group that reached the WNIT semifinals in 2014-15. The Wolverines rely heavily on young talent, but they’ve hung around with their conference competition so far. The Terps will be their toughest test yet, but this just might be an intriguing matchup.
Michigan (10-5, 2-2 B1G)
Kim Barnes Arico. The ninth coach in program history won 20 games in each of her first three seasons at the helm. She was previously the head coach at St. John’s for 10 years in a stint that included a Sweet 16 bid in 2011-12.
Players to know
Katelynn Flaherty, sophomore, guard, 5’7, No. 3. One of the top scorers in women’s college basketball, Flaherty averages 22.0 points per game on the strength of a stellar .483/.392/.909 shooting line. She is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, with her performances in wins against Iowa and Minnesota earning her the honor for the first time in her career. Last year, she led the Wolverines in scoring and was the conference’s Sixth Player of the Year. The leap she has made in her sophomore season suggests that even greater things are coming in the near future.
Hallie Thome, freshman, center, 6’5, No. 30. The four-star recruit was last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year in the State of Ohio. At the next level, she has stepped right in as the low-post replacement for the graduated Cyesha Goree. The freshman is second on the team with 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Siera Thompson, junior, guard, 5’7, No. 2. On an inexperienced team, Thompson and fellow junior Danielle Williams are the co-captains. In over 30 minutes per game, Thompson scores 8.5 points and dishes out 5.7 assists. Although her scoring numbers have declined each year of her career, she’s been a fixture in the Wolverine backcourt, starting 80 of 84 games since arriving in Ann Arbor.
Three-point shooting. Michigan shoots 38.9 percent from beyond the arc as a team, the 9th-best mark in the nation and 3rd-best in the B1G behind Maryland and Wisconsin. Aside from Flaherty and Thompson, the most potent threats are senior guard Madison Ristovski (43.9 percent) and freshmen guards Nicole Munger (40.5 percent) and Boogie Boroski (33.3 percent).
Rim protection. The entire team has 34 blocks in 15 games. That’s 2.3 blocks per game, less than half of what the Terps average. Other than Thome, there really aren’t any obstacles for Brionna Jones and Malina Howard down low.
Thomas’ Prediction: Maryland, 84-66.