Hoops Preview: Maryland Part Two Comment Count

Brian February 23rd, 2018 at 3:15 PM


WHAT #19 Michigan (23-7) vs
#35 Maryland (19-11)
WHERE Homesure Lending Arena
College Park, MD
WHEN Noon, Saturday
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.


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.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
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.


Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 2.14.01 PM

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:

image (3)



Maryland by 1.



February 23rd, 2018 at 3:31 PM ^

If we win out until semis, I think a 4 is in play. Our Q1 would look a lot better and our resume would really have no negatives. That plus we would be a top 15 team.


February 23rd, 2018 at 4:23 PM ^

and it's still close to 50/50, but it's looking more like we'd need to win that game in the semis to get up to a 4 seed.

Northwestern's current slide (I can't believe they've lost 5 in a row after beating M) is hurting us and losing at home last night to Wisconsin shot them all the way down to 148th, which is a Q3 game and is now a bonafide "bad loss" for us.

If I were Warde Manual I'd have a staff member send the committee a package that illustrates how much better M has been with Livers on the court than without and lobby for forgiveness for that game due to injury.  I doubt Warde Manuel is doing this and that's why he's an AD and I am not.

Iowa's current slide is hurting us too, such that they're 164th and M's win there is now Q4 instead of Q3.

Those are two teams we played twice so every loss is a double dagger to our resume.



February 23rd, 2018 at 5:06 PM ^

Iowa is now Q4 instead of Q3 with them sitting at 164th (cutoff is 160th).

Obvioulsy, potential for movement there.  Unfortunately, Northwestern and Iowa both are unlikely to move back up since they play each other this weekend.

Winner is back in business to move up a quadrant with another win in BTT.  And if Northwestern loses that game and their first BTT game, that would likely drop our home win over them to a Q4 game.


February 23rd, 2018 at 3:36 PM ^

Win, then root against OSU, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Gonzaga - although I'm not sure a 5 vs a 6 seed is that big of a difference. Falling to a 7 seems way worse than moving up to a 5 seems good.


February 23rd, 2018 at 3:50 PM ^

I received a call this week from a man at the University of Maryland Athletic Department thanking me for my support of the program and suggesting I make a financial contribution to their continued success.

I explained that he must have gotten my name and phone number from when I purchased tickets to one of their home football games, so that I could cheer on Maryland's opponent.  But I assured him that my family and I had a splendid time at the game, and would surely be returning to College Park the next time the Wolverines were in town.

He seemed disappointed.


February 24th, 2018 at 9:53 AM ^

I get that stuff all the time from them.

To get my Michigan-Maryland football ticket in the fall from the MD ticket office, I had to make some kind of nominal donation to their program. 

Which I did, not thinking much of it.  It was more of just a surcharge on your ticket.

Well, that puts you on a list. 

And like any good college AD these days, they badger the snot out of their donors for more-more-more. 

And unlike Michigan, Maryland actually needs the money just to keep going (which was the only reson they joined the Big Ten).

So if anybody desperately needs tickets to Maryland womens basketball agianst Rutgers, I can hook you up.


The Man Down T…

February 23rd, 2018 at 5:30 PM ^

So I changed my comment.  I type slow..  :)  Agreed.  The difference of a 6 playing an 11 and a 5 playing a 12 is small.  The second round you get 3vs14 winner as a 6 instead of the 4vs13 as a 5.  That's a little more of a step up than the first round but if you make that, you get the second seed before the first seed.  That gives one more team a chance to take out that one seed before UM as to.  Of course, if they win out with a BTT championship, a 3 seed is even better (Always hopeful!) 


February 23rd, 2018 at 6:14 PM ^

I get that there isn't much difference between a 5 and a 6, so I'd be mostly indifferent there, but uh, a 7 and a 4? Brah.

The difference between a 10 and a 13 in the first round is HUGE considering the 13s aren't at-large bids and tend to be like the 60-70th best teams rather than 40th best teams (as 10 seeds are).

The difference between a 2 and a 5/12 in the second round is....massive again.  2s are at that top end of the curve where you don't want to be.

Playing those massively more difficult first round opponents isn't worth the difference between a potential 3 and a 1 in the third round, especially when you'd still have a good chance to face the 1 in the regional final.

Get to the sweet 16 in the safest manner possible and then the order of teams you play doesn't really matter and is quite random anyway.


February 23rd, 2018 at 5:51 PM ^

While I can't argue against a quick hook for Matthews in favor of Poole....I do think that a significant reason that Heurter struggled in the first game was that Matthews was in his face all game.  I think Matthews is a great defender, especially against guys like Huerter and I think he should get minutes for that reason alone.  Maybe we just don't run as many plays for him while he's out there - or make those plays "lob to Matthews for a dunk."  


February 23rd, 2018 at 7:30 PM ^

I'll be honest - looking at the bracket matrix #11's, I'd rather play a Texas or UCLA-type team than a Middle Tennessee team. But either way, I didn't think Michigan would close with three straight wins over this stretch, so I'll just assume they lose an annoyingly close game and be happily surprised.