With Tuesday's major matchup between the Maryland Terrapins and Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, it seemed like a good time to bring BTPowerhouse's writers together and get their thoughts heading into the game. It's certainly a huge game for both sides and very well could be the biggest game for each since early December.
Check out the discussion below.
1. What Are Your General Thoughts On This Matchup and What Does It Mean Going Forward?
Thomas Beindit: To me, this is the biggest matchup for both teams since early December. Both have faced quality opponents since then at home and on the road, but just think of it this way. This is undeniably Maryland's toughest Big Ten opponent yet and comes on the road. For Michigan, this is probably the team's best shot at grabbing a win against a top end team at least until early February.
The Terrapins are looking to take the next step as a Big Ten title contender and Michigan desperately needs a marquee win. Without exaggerating, this game could very well end up determining where Maryland sits in the Big Ten title hunt and Michigan's NCAA Tournament hopes. Needless to say, there's a lot on the line on Tuesday.
Wola Odeniran: I felt like in the first-four games of Big Ten conference play for Maryland, this would be their toughest test. Maryland averages 78 points a game offensively and allows 63 points a game defensively. The Michigan Wolverines on the other side score a lot of points as well averaging 78 points a game and allowing 62 points a game. So statistically, this looks like an even matchup. The key in this game in my opinion will be whether or not Wolverines leading scorer Caris LeVert will be able to play as he is dealing with a leg injury. If LeVert can't go, that's 17.6 points a game that won't be available in a big game against the third ranked team in the country.
Marco Knudsen: This is an interesting game with multiple storylines. Maryland is looking to go for consecutive wins on the road in conference play, while Michigan looks for a marquee win possibly without Caris LeVert. According to the numbers, this SHOULD be an even match-up, but if LeVert can't go, not only is that a huge loss in the scoring column, but it's a factor on the glass and creating opportunities for others.
Going forward, this has major tournament ramifications for both programs. If Maryland wins, the committee will have to take notice of Maryland winning back-to-back road games on a three day turnaround which could help solidify a No. 1 seed in March. If the Wolverines win, that's a great testament to their togetherness and resiliency with their best player out, and could prove as a springboard for momentum for the rest of the season.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: I'm also interested to see if Caris LeVert can find his way on the court. But even if he does, will it sway the odds in the Wolverines favor? At this point in the season, Michigan remains a little bit of an anomaly to me. I don't know where they belong in the grand scheme of things. I suppose we'll see when LeVert can string together some conference games.
But in regards to this game, I'm just not sure how well Michigan's small ball lineup -- with our without their leader -- can match up with Maryland's big men. Who is stopping the Diamond Stone/Melo Trimble P&R? Who is going to force Robert Carter to shoot from the outside rather than bang in the post? And offensively, what Michigan team will show up? After watching everyone not named Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman struggle against Purdue and that dominate interior defense, can the Wolverines come up with an offensive game plan to stifle KenPom's 20th ranked defense? I'm not so sure.
2. What's The Matchup To Watch When Maryland and Michigan Tip-Off?
Thomas Beindit: There are two matchups I'm particularly interested to see. The first is what Michigan tries to do inside defensively. The Wolverines haven't exactly been great inside on either end this season and if the team is going to have any chance, it has to slow down Diamond Stone. I realize Stone has been a bit inconsistent so far this year, but if Michigan is going to win, they can't let him have one of his breakout performances.
On the other side, who does Maryland put on Duncan Robinson? He's the Big Ten's best three point shooter and can single-handedly keep the Wolverines in games when he's having a good night. I expect some rotating, but whether it's Jake Layman, Jared Nickens, or Rasheed Suliamon, the Terps have to play well defensively here.
Wola Odeniran: I think the matchup to watch will be Michigan's guards offensively going up a against Maryland defense that likes to play in man, zone and press defense over the course of 40 minutes. Michigan has players right now averaging at least eight points a game and they are all guards with the biggest guard in Zak Irvin weighing 215 pounds. It will be interesting to see if Maryland goes with a small lineup throughout the game putting Jake Layman at the power forward position while Robert Carter plays center rotating with Diamond Stone and Damonte Dodd off the bench.
Marco Knudsen: There are two match ups I'm interested in seeing. I'm interested in seeing if Maryland's depth down low can get the better of Michigan who has shown signs of struggle against physical big men. This will be an important game for Maryland to help rectify their rebounding issues.
For Michigan, I want to see if they can generate offense and create open looks on the perimeter without LeVert if in fact he can't go. Michigan shoots an incredible 42.6 percent from the perimeter as a team. If they can move the ball and capitalize on that percentage, Maryland will have their work cut out for them.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: Melo Trimble and whatever guard tries to stop him (something I will continue to watch the remainder of the season). After that Wisconsin game, I think Michigan might be running into a bit of a buzz saw. Trimble is definitely feeling himself right now. He's playing with such a palpable confidence, it's honestly a wonder he is still in the collegiate ranks. Like I mentioned a little above, his pick and roll game is NBA ready and his play making ability is second to none in the NCAA right now. Stopping Trimble is the key to stopping Maryland. IF Michigan can force the ball out of his hands and make someone else string together some plays down the stretch, the Wolverines might just have a chance.
3. Who Wins On Tuesday Night?
Thomas Beindit: This looks like a really tight and fun game on paper. Both teams have some star players and both have really effective offenses. Nonetheless, it's just hard not to pick Maryland here. Michigan is the less talented team and will also likely be without Caris LeVert on Tuesday night. I expect the home crowd to be wild and for a few players like Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman to have nice games, but I think the Terps ultimately have too much firepower.
Wola Odeniran: I think this will be a close game whether or not Caris LeVert plays. Michigan is 8-1 at home, it's a primetime game on ESPN so I think Wolverines head coach John Beilein will have his team ready. But right now, I will go with Maryland I think they have quite the momentum going for them right now winning nine in a row they are starting to jell as a unit.
Marco Knudsen: I agree with Wola that it has the makings to be a close game throughout 40 minutes, but I feel late game free throws will help seal the deal for the Terrapins. Maryland 62, Michigan 58.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: The fact that it's on ESPN and at Michigan makes me shorten the gap here a bit, but I'm just not sure the Wolverines have enough down the stretch to slow down this version of the Terrapins. Like my cohorts above, I can see this being a contest for the first 20 or 30 minutes, but I fully expect Trimble to play like the best player on the court, especially with the college basketball community honing in on this game. Maryland by eight.