College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams coming off upset victories in their latest ventures get together on Saturday afternoon, as the Michigan Wolverines have arrived at the XFINITY Center to tangle with the 14th-ranked Maryland Terrapins in Big Ten Conference action.
Michigan took down No, 24 Ohio State at home last Sunday, 64-57, to put the brakes on a five-game losing streak and put the team back over .500 for the season at 14-13. The Wolverines are still a game below the break-even point in conference at 7-8, and they've got only three games left, including this one, in the regular season to potentially improve their seeding in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.
At 23-5 overall and 11-4 in conference, Maryland has enjoyed a tremendous first season in the Big Ten. The Terrapins are still in the hunt for the league's regular-season crown after knocking off No. 5 Wisconsin in College Park on Tuesday night, cutting the distance between themselves and the first- place Badgers (25-3, 13-2 Big Ten) with only a few games left. Maryland has won its last four bouts, and is 17-1 at home this season.
The all-time series between these new conference foes is knotted at 3-3, and Maryland has won the last two meetings, the most recent of which took place in December of 2008 (75-70).
Spike Albrecht scored 16 points and Zak Irvin tacked on 15 more for Michigan as it posted a seven-point win over visiting Ohio State last weekend. The Wolverines wound up shooting 47.3 percent from the floor, draining 7-of-19 3- point attempts in the process, while the Buckeyes hit 42.3 percent of their total shots, but hit two fewer treys. Michigan, which held a 39-23 lead at halftime, won the game despite being outrebounded by a 36-28 margin.
The loss of leading scorer Caris LeVert (14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg) to a season-ending foot injury in mid-January has hurt a Michigan team that wasn't an offensive juggernaut to begin with. Additionally, Derrick Walton, Jr. (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) has also suffered a foot injury and is still on the shelf, leaving Irvin (13.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg) as the only active double-digit scorer on the roster. As it is, the Wolverines are averaging just 63.9 ppg, which ranks 11th in the 14- team conference, and they sit even lower in field goal percentage (.418, 13th). Michigan allows its opponents to convert 44.6 percent of their field goal attempts, which also ranks the team 13th, and its -3.5 rebounding differential has it dead last.
Maryland took it to the visiting Badgers earlier this week, outshooting them in the opening period (.542 to .296) to take a 31-20 lead at intermission. Wisconsin went just 1-of-11 from 3-point range in the first half, finishing at 6-of-22 for the game, while the Terrapins made good on only 2-of-7 long-range launches in all. Dez Wells was a man possessed for Maryland, recording a stat line that consisted of 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Melo Trimble was the only other Terp to reach double figures, as he tallied 16 points thanks to his 7-of-14 shooting effort. Wells was perfect at the foul line (7-of-7).
The Terrapins (70.4 ppg) are one of seven teams in the Big Ten netting 70 points per game or more this season, and they use a solid showing from beyond the arc (.374) as well as at the free-throw line (.749) to do the bulk of their damage. The team's defensive effort yields 63.9 ppg, with foes shooting just 40.3 percent from the floor and 32.0 percent from long range. Trimble (16.1 ppg, 3.1 apg), Wells (15.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Jake Layman (13.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) have each enjoyed productive campaigns, helping Maryland reach the level of success it has, although there is still work to be done to make this a truly special season.