xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s 87-63 loss to No. 7 Michigan

From defensive breakdowns to the glaring gap between one of the Big Ten’s elite, here are three takeaways from the Maryland men’s basketball team’s 87-63 loss at No. 7 Michigan on Tuesday night:

Maryland had an answer for Hunter Dickinson and not much else.

Advertisement

Coach Mark Turgeon and Maryland were well aware of what troubled them in the team’s first meeting against Michigan at College Park on New Year’s Eve. Freshman center Hunter Dickinson scored a then-career-high 26 points, taking full advantage of the undersized Terps, who were outscored in the paint 42-22.

The Terps were focused on Dickinson in the early portion of their rematch in Ann Arbor. Senior forward Galin Smith, giving up several inches of height in his matchup with Dickinson, fought well to deny him the ball in the post. Maryland defenders smartly doubled Dickinson when he was on the baseline, preventing him from getting clean post opportunities.

Advertisement
Advertisement

But Dickinson showed why he is a front-runner for Big Ten Newcomer of the Year. He responded well, kicking the ball out to teammates, who either got open looks or swung the ball around to find another open teammate. Michigan’s precise ball movement led to it making its first five 3-point attempts — and tie a season-high with 12 makes — to jump ahead 17-3 five minutes into the game.

Dickinson didn’t play a huge role in the game but Maryland still could not draw up a solution for a Michigan offense that scored at least 80 points for the 10th time this season. The Wolverines often got dribble penetration and sucked in defenders before finding waiting shooters beyond the 3-point line. Maryland threw several defenses at Michigan throughout the night but none proved successful, showing how vital a collective defensive effort is for the Terps to knock off top teams in the Big Ten.

Maryland’s small-ball lineup maximizes its offensive potential, but shots have to be made.

While Smith will start and at times finish games at center, and sophomore Chol Marial will take up scant minutes as part of Turgeon’s rotation, Maryland’s most productive unit — at least, offensively — will feature either Donta Scott or junior forward Jairus Hamilton at the 5 position.

Advertisement

Maryland struggled early with Michigan’s length on defense, committing six turnovers in the first half. But unlike the first meeting between the teams, Maryland was not dominated down low in Ann Arbor, outscored by just six points in the paint. The Terps were able to get into the lane and often made tough shots over the Wolverines’ bigs. After attempting just six free throws — tied for the fewest in a game in the Turgeon era — in the first meeting, Maryland attempted 30 on Tuesday but missed 13. Two misses came on the front ends of one-and-one opportunities within the final minute of the first half and Michigan capitalized off the misses, pushing its lead to 17 at halftime.

The Terps also made just four 3-pointers, tying a season-low, despite getting open looks throughout the game. Afterward, Turgeon lamented some of the easy shots his players missed early.

“I just wish we would have shot a little better, made a few more layups, made a few more open 3s, and made our free throws,” Turgeon said. “I think we could have competed a little bit more, and maybe then our defense would have been a little bit better.”

Maryland’s worst loss of the season was another reminder of the gap between it and the Big Ten’s elite.

As the cameras from the Fox Sports 1 broadcast panned to looks of dejection on Maryland’s bench late in their worst loss of the season to date, the team was given another merciless reminder of how competitive the Big Ten is, which Turgeon is quick to note.

Turgeon said after the game that he thinks Michigan is talented enough to win the NCAA tournament and it’s hard to argue with that assertion, given the Wolverines have only lost one game in the strongest league in college basketball. Holding a record of 2-7 midway through conference play — Maryland’s game against Nebraska last Saturday was postponed because of the Cornhuskers’ COVID-19 cases — the Terps are simply scrapping to stay of out the basement of the Big Ten. After Tuesday’s games, Maryland is 12th in the conference standings, ahead of only winless Penn State and Nebraska.

Regardless of what size disadvantage Maryland might have, it’s a head-scratching position for the Terps, whose sole wins in conference play have strangely come on the road against top-15 opponents. But Maryland’s margin for error in a given game, especially against competition as tough as Michigan, is slim, and that was evident again Tuesday night.

MARYLAND@NO. 17 MINNESOTA

Saturday, 2 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement