|WHAT|| #19 Michigan (23-7) vs
#35 Maryland (19-11)
|WHERE||Homesure Lending Arena
College Park, MD
|LINE||Maryland -1 (KenPom)|
It should really be a withdrawhead.
With two wins against solid teams in their last two outings, bracket opinion on Michigan has shifted towards consensus. That consensus: the six line. Palm has come up; Lunardi has come down. The Matrix agrees. Maryland, currently 58th in RPI, is in fact an opportunity for a Q1 win and might move the needle more than you might expect; coupled with an couple wins in the Big Ten tournament a 5 is probably within reach. Lose and Michigan will be trying to stay off the 7 line.
As far as the team goes, offensive burdens continue to shift to Duncan Robinson and Jordan Poole and away from Charles Matthews, because the former two guys are hitting shots and Matthews has more turnovers than baskets in most games. Mathews is still a far superior defender and must be given a shot to stop doing... that, but Michigan doesn't have a lot of margin for error in a game Kenpom thinks they're a slight dog in.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||10||Anthony Cowan||So.||6'0, 170||98*||23||113||No|
|Steph-mold shooter has had efficiency drop since last game. 46/37 but gets to line a ton at 84%. TOs an issue.|
|G||33||Dion Wiley||Jr.||6'4, 210||73||13||110||No|
|Just A Shooter hitting 40%.|
|G||23||Darryl Morsell||Fr.||6'4, 205||86||21||97||Very|
|Burlyguard drives a bunch; no threes, lot of TOs, 46% from two.|
|F||11||Kevin Huerter||So.||6'7, 190||86||21||118||No|
|61/43 shooter has eFG nearing the top 50, frequent assists but 21 TO rate.|
|C||24||Bruno Fernando||Fr.||6'10, 245||66||23||110||Very|
|Muscled-up FR post solid scorer who generates fair chunk of his shots, poor TO rate.|
|C||4||Michal Cekovsky||Sr.||7'1, 250||28||18||116||Very|
|Fernando far superior DREB guy, otherwise quite similar statistically.|
|F||5||Jared Nickens||Sr.||6'7, 205||42||14||113||No|
|Just A Shooter hitting 40%.|
|F||3||Joshua Tomaic||So.||6'9", 220||7||21||72||No|
|Near invisible but shooting well on his < 1 attempt per game.|
|C||44||Sean Obi||Sr.||6'9, 250||7||14||114||Very|
|In the gray at Kenpom so not enough data to say much.|
*[All minutes taken from the last five games since MD has had a couple of major injuries and has shifted a bunch of minutes around as the season has progressed.]
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Cowan has burdens man [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Maryland is like a lot of Big Ten teams in this weird off year for the conference in that they're desperately short on guys who can basketball. In their case it's less negligence than bad luck since their highest-usage guy and another important contributor went out a couple months ago. On the other hand, those guys are 6'7" and 6'9" and Maryland lacks guards. Why doesn't anyone in the conference have a backup point guard? I don't know.
Fortunately for Maryland, their starter is a dude. You undoubtedly remember Anthony Cowan from the previous game. Cowan is overloaded and takes the brunt of Maryland's offensive struggles. Virtually none of his twos are assisted and only half his threes are; in the first half of the game at Crisler he hit three circus shots at the end of the shot clock to buoy an otherwise stagnant offense.
Cowan has a top 200 assist rate, a top 100 FT rate, and shoots 84% there. 46/37 from the floor isn't amazing but given how little help he's getting from his teammates and how little rest he gets—he has been on the court for 98% of Maryland's minutes over the past five games—it's impressive that he's keeping his head above water.
FWIW, his matchup against Zavier Simpson was tight largely because he has the ability to hit a shot from anywhere at any time. He scored 24 points on 18 shot equivalents but had 6 TOs to drag his ORTG back down to 105.
The other star is the third One That Got Away in the league this year (Purdue's Vincent Edwards and OSU's Keita Bates-Diop are the other two). Maryland's edition is Kevin Huerter, a 6'7" sniper who's fine pulling up from way outside but is not Just A Shooter. A fairly healthy FT rate paired with 125 attempts from two mean that he's about 50/50 between threes and twos, and he's shooting 61/43 with most of those twos unassisted. He might be the best guy on non-rim 2PAs in the country at 53%. Huerter's super efficient on sold (21%) usage; a TO rate in the low 20s is the only issue with his offense.
But he is a guy who can be taken out of his game. Michigan was aware that he likes to pull up from the parking lot and shut down that aspect of the game; until a couple of bad switches at the death he was stuck on six points with 2 TOs, and even with those two late threes he finished that game with an 84 ORTG. Whatever that plan was, try it again.
The other guard-type substances on the roster are limited in inverted ways. Dion Wiley, is a low-usage Just A Shooter hitting 40% on 90 threes to date. He has 9 FTAs on the season. He's that kind of guy. (He did not play in the first game, FWIW.) Darryl Morsell, meanwhile, is 3/21 from deep this year. He tries to get to the rim a lot and is pretty bleah once there despite getting a lot of assists on his makes. Keep him off the FT line and his efficiency will be more about Michigan failing to recover after helping.
something about ABBA? [Campredon]
The final starter is C Bruno Fernando, who is ripped and has a cool flattop. He's emerged over the course of the season into the starter and now gets about 30 minutes a game—he got 18 last time. He's pretty good on short jumpers and creates a fair number of his own shots; he's a great DREB guy and decent blocking shots and grabbing OREBs. 5.4 fouls per 40 mean he can be tough to keep on the floor. He's also a 72% FT shooter, so putting him on the line is not advised.
Maryland's bench consists of two guys. Senior Jared Nickens is another Just A Shooter averaging fewer than one 2PA per game. He gets about 16 minutes a game. Center Michal Cekovsky was about on par with Fernando the last time these teams played but has receded to a 10 MPG guy as the season winds down. He's another big with absurd shooting stats (67%) because he almost never finds a shot for himself; the main difference between the two guys statistically is a huge gap in DREB rate. Cekovsky is about on par with Cowan at 13%.
Past that it's dudes who have gotten about three minutes a game recently and have so few minutes on the season that it's tough to tell much from their stats. Both Joshua Tomaic and Sean Obi are 6'9", FWIW.
Maryland has an Old Beilein variety of defense. It is extraordinarily foul-and-steal averse, 5th and 329th respectively, and pretty mediocre on the defensive boards. The main difference between this Maryland defense and your garden variety Beilein D from 3-4 years ago is their ability to contest two-pointers. They're top 25 at 2PA% D and fairly good at 3PA% D, but they're not particularly good at preventing threes from going up. They land 55th overall.
The Terrapins are a bit better on the other side of the because they're good at all varieties of shooting—around 50th in FT%, 2P%, and 3P%—get to the line a lot, and are fairly good OREB gents. They do have a couple problems: they are around 300th in TOs, and a large number of those are open-court steals. That's compounded by a high opponent block rate. Michigan could get out and run some. They were far more effective in transition than half-court at Crisler.
Don't score 20 points in the first half because you're playing two days after a win at Breslin. Maryland still has a two day rest advantage since they haven't played since Monday—good work, Jim Delany—but 3 versus 5 is much better than 1 versus 3. That first half in the previous game wasn't the usual Michigan drought where they can't get a shot; instead it was a series of somewhat-contested short misses. Without a repeat I feel relatively good about the rematch.
A quick hook for Matthews if it keeps going like it's going. This is another team that has a JAS on the floor at all times and Poole can check that guy. Meanwhile Poole had 11 points on 5 shot equivalents to pull Michigan's ass out of the fire at Crisler. You have to give Matthews an opportunity to break out of his funk... but Poole's probably getting 25 minutes.
Repeat defensive game plan from opener. Maryland barely scraped above 1 PPP despite having just 8 assists thanks to Cowan's literally indefensible heroics and an overall shooting performance that was anomalously good. Michigan forced Maryland to take non-rim 2PAs on more than half their shots*, but Maryland hit 44% on those despite almost all of them being unassisted.
Many Maryland possessions degenerated into "Cowan, do something." Cowan did do a lot of somethings: Maryland's eFG on late-clock possessions was a whopping 75%. Unless that continues it'll take a very friendly whistle for Maryland to maintain their bleah performance at Crisler.
*[UPDATE: uh... there might be a problem with the Crisler official scorer since that guy had M with just 13% at the rim. We've started looking into some individual events and this data might be flat out bad. This was filed as 2PJ:
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Maryland by 1.