as always, JM.
Definitely curious to see how MD defends Sims/Harris. Barring a Savannah State-like 70% first half from MD, this one should be close throughout.
Michigan vs Maryland: Does it Matter?
You’ll have to excuse the Big 10 if they feel a little bit like the counselors from Camp North Star as the league heads into the final night of this year’s Big 10/ACC Challenge.
What, you don’t remember Camp North Star? It’s from the late 1970s comedic classic Meatballs, one of Ivan Reitman’s first breakthrough films. The movie was a pretty standard, slapstick comedy revolving around the antics of the goofiest set of camp counselors ever assembled. It’s one of Bill Murray’s first starring roles, debuting a year before Caddyshack and Carl Spackler was introduced into the world.
One of plot lines of the movie was the camp’s rivalry with the more ritzy and glitzy Camp Mohawk from across the lake. Each year the camps competed in an Olympiad. And, each year Mohawk drubbed North Star like a drum.
That’s how the Big 10/ACC Challenge has played out over the years. The ACC, the more tradition rich and talented league in basketball, has won this challenge, often with ease, every year since its inception. Camp North Star versus Camp Mohawk. Big 10 versus ACC. The results are the same every year.
That might be changing this season. Heading into the final night, the leagues are actually tied at three wins apiece. This is newsworthy because it puts a little drama into tonight’s actions. Usually, the ACC is so far ahead that nothing short of a sweep on the final night would do it for the Big 10.
In the movie, Tripper (Murray’s character) inspired his legion of underdogs with a stirring pep talk, claiming it does not matter if they win or lose and repeating the phrase ‘it just doesn’t matter’ until the whole room joined him.
So, does it even matter if the Big 10 wins this challenge? Probably not. I doubt come March that a random Big 10 team will sneak into the field of 65 based solely on the fact that their conference won the Big 10/ACC Challenge. But, for the individual teams there is a lot at stake.
Ohio State and Minnesota will be two teams sitting on the bubble throughout the winter and their wins last night against Miami and Virginia respectively will only enhance their resume. On the other hand, Purdue, a trendy final four pick, has now lost consecutive high profile games. The drubbing Duke gave them last night--on their home floor none the less—could hurt their seeding in March and make their trek through the brackets even tougher. Illinois, which had been creating a nice resume on their own with some hard fought November wins, let a crucial game slip away at home last night against Clemson. Ohio State and Minnesota boosted their resumes, while Illinois did not. All three clubs figure to be bubble teams and last night’s results could be revisited when the selection committee convenes.
In tonight’s action, there really is not that much at stake for the Big 10 teams. Indiana, Penn St and Northwestern are tournament long shots, at best. Their resumes ultimately will be irrelevant. Michigan St, barring an unprecedented winter collapse, will be in the field regardless of how their showdown with the Tar Heels goes. That leaves one team with a lot of stakes on the line tonight: Michigan.
When Michigan and Maryland play each other tonight, two teams looking to regain former glory will but heads. We all know about UM’s tourney drought, but the Terps, despite being a program that’s considered a power, have missed three of the last four NCAA Tournaments. Both teams are also looking to rebound a little after following impressive victories earlier in the year with ‘meh’ follow up games.
Michigan may have the signature win of the season with their upset of UCLA. But, Michigan was totally outclassed by Duke in their next game and needed overtime to avoid an upset at the hands of Savannah State over the weekend. Maryland, meanwhile, may have the second most noteworthy win of the year when they upset Michigan State on Thanksgiving Day. But, they followed that up by being blown out by Gonzaga and Georgetown.
There is more positive buzz around these programs than originally expected because of those upsets, but the loser tonight risks giving up all that good will. That big November win will be looked upon as a fluke. Both of these teams could spend all season on the bubble, so their head to head outcome will trumpet one program and dog the other all winter long.
For Michigan, this is the front end of an important week as the WolverineS host Duke in a rematch on Saturday. If Michigan can get at least one win this week, they’ll probably be considered a tourney team in most of the early field of 65 projections. Coming off one of the worst seasons in program history, just positioning itself to be a member of the tournament field when the league season begins would be a pretty big step towards ending the decade long absence from March Madness.
According to the experts in the desert, Maryland is favored tonight by 6 points. That’s a pretty reasonable line for a home team to be laying in a fairly even matchup. I like the Wolverines chances tonight, not only to cover the spread, but notch the outright win. The Terps are a perfect matchup for Michigan.
Maryland is a doughnut team, meaning they have no center. They have a #4 playing the #5 and a #3 playing the #4. That works to Michigan’s advantage as they’ve vulnerable to big, bruising and banging teams. That description does not fit the Maryland Terrapins. Michigan might have an edge in the frontcourt, given the scoring and overall sound play they’ve been getting from DeShaun Sims, who will be a sixth man of the year candidate if he keeps up his good play.
Maryland’s best player, Grevais Vasquez, is a turnover machine. The Terps take a lot of bad shots. Both of those will come into play tonight under the scrutiny of UM’s 1-3-1 zone defense. Neither team is very deep, but Michigan has shown a lot more second half legs than Maryland. Plus, the Terps could still be worn out from the grueling weekend tournament they took part in, during which they played MSU, Gonzaga and Georgetown. I would be surprised if Michigan was not the fresher team this evening.
Michigan will have the best player on the floor tonight in Manny Harris. With Sims, they might even have the second best. As long as they don’t shrink in the moment of a tough a road environment, I think Michigan can pull away and win the second half.
As for the rest of the Big 10 tonight, it does not look as rosy.
Camp North Star finally beat Camp Mohawk because the scrappy Rudy Gardner won the final event, a distance race through the woods. The Big 10 will need to channel a whole bunch of Rudy Gardner to come out ahead. Indiana will be taken behind the woodshed tonight by Wake Forest. Expect the Deacons to win by at least 20 points. Penn St has shown some scoring acumen this year, but I don’t like their chances in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. Northwestern at least is playing at home, and are slight favorites actually over Florida St. Still, the Noles will have too much in the end.
The marquee game is UNC and MSU playing in front of 70,000 fans at Ford Field. The Spartans will have a nice home court edge, but nobody expects that to really help. UNC is a whopping 10-point favorite tonight. I am not sold on MSU just yet. I’d be impressed if Raymar Morgan stays out of foul trouble and his coach’s doghouse long enough to keep this game close.
But, like Tripper said, it just does not matter if the Big 10 tops the ACC in this challenge. That scoreboard tally won’t mean much come March.
But, the outcome specifically of the Michigan/Maryland contest will loom large and matter in a few months.
as always, JM.
SOOOOOOOOOOOO pumped for Michigan - Maryland tonight. Goin to BW3's gettin some brewdoggers and wings. NICE.
Question: is Tyler Jonathan Hansbourington playing tonight? I heard he was questionable with a sore va-J-J.
A good read. I'm really interested to see if the Savannah St. game was the aberration it should be, or if this team just over-performed against UCLA. I've always believed that when two teams are pretty evenly matched with their starters, the next 3 off the bench will decide the game. With Sims manning the second unit, I see this game being one where UM creates a little cushion in the middle of the 2nd half with its bench, then holding on as Maryland makes a comeback late in the game.
UM is just too inconsistent with their shooting. That's the biggest beef that I have with Beilein's offense. Too much perimeter play and not enough banging down on the block. I worry about our rebounding as well.
I'm checking it out at the Arena tonight, at least until they discover I snuck my own bottle of Old Crow in and kick me out.
I think Maryland's depth in the backcourt is gonna do us in. They are absolutely a doughnut team, and hopefully Sims will have a monster game, but anything short of a monster game and Michigan will lose.
As for the question, absolutely it matters. I fucking hate those fucking fuckers from fucking College (Trailer) Park. Fuck Maryland. Except when they beat Sparty, that was kinda cool. But it was the Shitty Fan Base Bowl of basketball games.
Maryland is very beatable. If Michigan plays like they did against UCLA, they've got a good chance. Try to put that Savannah State game behind you, huh? If Vasquez gets hot, be careful, but if you shut him down, they really don't have much else going. I honestly think Maryland got lucky against MSU, catching us on a bad day and shooting lights out from pretty much everywhere. I doubt they can repeat that performance against the underrated Wolverines. Here's hoping you can pull off the upset, and get some respect back for the maligned Big Ten, especially since my Spartans are going to get rolled tonight. You're right not to be sold on us, by the way. We're playing awful right now, and no one is really stepping up to fill the voids left by Neitzel and Naymick. Hardly even a top 25 team. The good news is, Purdue and Michigan State are both going to improve dramatically as the year goes on, and Michigan might as well. I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see UM with an NCAA appearance this year.
Go Green! Go Blue!
Pretty much everything that could go right, went right for the Twerps against you guys.....didn't they have a couple of role players just go off on career nights....suton was out, and morgan played something like 3 minutes because of foul trouble.
Interesting that Izzo benched him the next game, as a starter at least.....they seemed to have words at one point during the Maryland game.
I was a never big fan of Neitzel, but the whole offense gelled with him, so they're struggling to find their on court identity......as they figure that out, this team will click....it has the potential to be deep and talented......hopefully for their fans, they'll peak as the winter gets longer.
Hard to believe they're a 10-point home dog.
People need to stop coming up with really shitty titles for their diaries.
I hated writing headlines as an editor and was terrible at it.....of course, as a reporter, I hated the headline writers.
I'll work on the skill.
.....the Maize and Blue played well, but came up short.
I liked what I saw out of them.....they need another scorer....and, like everyone else, I am hopeful LLP can be that guys once he is eligible.
My sole disappoinment was that run coming out of the second half....Michigan has been pretty oslid coming out of intermission all year, so it was a surprise to see maryland go on such a major run those first five minutes.
I thought M played very well.
The box score had Maryland FT 20 and M 6. Do you think the refs were a deciding factor in the loss?
I believe M could have won on their home court.