The buzz surrounding the Maryland-Michigan game circled around two main facets: Melo Trimble's ability to snap out of his shooting slump and Maryland's ability to guard the perimeter after being gashed by Minnesota from three-point range on last Thursday.
Heading into the game against Michigan, sophomore guard Melo Trimble carried over an abysmal 4-for-25 shooting from the field during their two game losing streak. From a possible injury to just a sophomore slump, the wall Trimble hit against Wisconsin and Minnesota was cause for concern as the season quickly comes to a conclusion. Maryland's defense - especially on the perimeter - was also a focal point for the Terrapins facing a lethal Wolverine team who can fill it up in a hurry.
The Terrapins did a good job in spurts against Michigan's three point prowess, but there is still a bit of work to be done guarding the perimeter and the paint.
Here are the key takeaways from Sunday's game against Maryland and Michigan
What We Learned
1. Jaylen Brantley has potential to be the backup point guard fans expected.
His stats aren't going to blow anyone away, but it has to be refreshing to see former Marshall point guard Jaylen Brantley stepping up in a pivotal way against a Big Ten foe. His five points played a key role in building a lead for Maryland and were a key stat in the final score. If it wasn't for his three pointer and layup, Maryland may not have been able to come away with a four point victory.
His play doesn't need to wow fans in a manner that makes him out to be a sixth man of the year. Not only were his five points important, but his three steals helped seal the victory for when Maryland needed it most.
2. Maryland's big men need to communicate consistently.
The primary reason for nervousness amongst Maryland fans heading into this was Michigan's three-point shooting, but it was their ability to exploit Maryland's lack of communication inside to prevent those easy baskets. The Terrapins continuously fell asleep in the paint and failed to adjust to Michigan's pick and roll led by Derrick Walton Jr. It appeared that the combination of Diamond Stone, Robert Carter and Damonte Dodd failed to consistently communicate and figure out how to protect the rim in the second half. Carter and Stone are essentially matchup problems for anyone they play, but there needs to be a similar effort to communicate defensively.
3. The Michigan starting five can be lethal, but they need production from their bench.
There is a reason Michigan was ranked in the top-25 this preseason, and they looked the part on Sunday without their best player Caris LeVert. All five starters against Maryland notched double figures, but were hurt by only six points off the bench thanks to Kameron Chatman. Spike Albrecht's season ending injury has a say in that, but there needs to be more of a consistent effort from the second unit if they wish to safely make it into the NCAA tournament.
4. Derrick Walton Jr. deserves more credit as a top-tier point guard in the conference.
Walton played a very solid game and was an instrumental piece in the Wolverines coming back in the second half and remaining in the game throughout the game. His 14 points, six rebounds and five assists were quintessential in his efforts to maximize his teammates' offensive opportunities and to create for himself. Yogi Ferrell and Melo Trimble lead the way in the Big Ten as far as point guard play is concerned - feel free to throw Denzel Valentine in that mix as well - but Walton Jr. has been a steady fixture in the starting lineup for three years now and is a major reason why the Wolverines are in the mix for a tournament berth.
Maryland needed this win, and even though Trimble didn't explode for a 20+ point outing on an efficient shooting percentage, his impact on the game really resonated with the outcome of the game. He rebounded very well for a point guard and managed to let others get involved more in the scoring column when he struggled to do so. His ability to drive and look for teammates was impressive. Maryland is right in the mix for a Big Ten regular season title, and the final game against Indiana could very well determine the champion in the regular season.