The Big Ten had three games on Thursday night, highlighted by a marquee matchup between Michigan and UCF in Florida. Maryland and Rutgers also hosted underwhelming mid-major opponents.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-UCF Knights 85, Michigan Wolverines 71
Despite lofty preseason expectations and a loaded roster, Michigan entered Thursday night’s matchup with middling results. The Wolverines were just 7-4 overall and had yet to beat anybody in KenPom’s top 40. And while UCF doesn’t look to be an elite team, it entered Thursday at 8-2 overall and was starting to trend up. It looked like a nice opportunity for Michigan to get a road win and improve its resume.
Unfortunately for Wolverine fans, that didn’t happen. In fact, Michigan took a promising first half start and nosedived in the closing 15 minutes of the game. The team had no answer for UCF’s perimeter shooting, allowing Darin Green to go off for 27 points and seven three-pointers. Meanwhile, Michigan’s offense went ice cold, getting outscored 28-15 to close the game. Michigan ended up losing by 14 points.
It’s still early so caveats apply, but it’s hard to feel great about where things are heading in Ann Arbor this season. Michigan is now 7-5 and heading into league play without a marquee win. And the team doesn’t seem to be significantly better than it was a few weeks ago. Barring a shocking turnaround, Michigan is going to have an uphill battle for the NCAAs, which is something I didn’t expect to write before the season. However, it’s reality.
Michigan will return to action next Tuesday on the road against Rutgers. It’s another huge game for the Wolverines. A loss would be devastating for the team’s postseason hopes.
-Maryland Terrapins 81, Brown Bears 67
The Terps scored another nice win in this one, overcoming some early struggles to get a double-digit win over Brown. Hakim Hart led the way with 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Eric Ayala also had 22 points and eight rebounds. Likewise, the team’s defense had an impressive performance, holding Brown to 0.93 points per possession.
The win pushed Maryland to 8-4 overall heading into the restart of conference play. The Terps will open up the new year with Iowa on the road on Monday. It’s a great opportunity for Maryland to make up for some early missteps.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 80, Maine Black Bears 64
This game was one of the many that was under the shadow of the recent COVID-19 surge. Rutgers rescheduled a few games, but was able to get in a matchup with Maine as part of its close to non-conference play. Fortunately for Scarlet Knight fans, Rutgers grabbed a first half lead and never looked back. Ron Harper led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds. The win pushed Rutgers to 6-5 overall heading into its non-conference finale against Central Connecticut on Saturday.