Michigan 85, Maryland 61 Comment Count

Alex Cook February 24th, 2018 at 3:33 PM

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Muhammad-Ali Abdul-Jabbar [Paul Sherman]

Maryland came into the season finale as a fringe bubble team, and for the second game in a row, Michigan went on the road and won against a team clinging to faint NCAA Tournament hopes on their Senior Night. This one was over well before halftime, as Michigan gained their footing after a few early turnovers and ran the Terrapins out of the building. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman continued his excellent run of form, playing the best game as a Wolverine while wearing some goggles after having been poked in the eye earlier this week.

Michigan’s first four possessions were a Charles Matthews turnover, an Isaiah Livers turnover, a Zavier Simpson missed three, and a Simpson turnover. From there, Rahkman took over. He opened the scoring for Michigan with a three-pointer, and then - after Jordan Poole and Duncan Robinson entered the game - hit two more in quick succession: a corner three after his own offensive rebound, and a deep three off a switch against Michal Cekovsky. Rahkman would eventually score 22 points in the first half, including a buzzer-beating three to put Michigan up by 30 entering the break.

Rahkman’s shooting kept the Wolverines in it early, as Maryland’s offense was able to generate some good looks, but once Jon Teske checked in (and had a few excellent defensive possessions in a row), the Terrapin offense stalled out and wasn’t able to recover for the rest of the half. Teske entered the game for the first time when Michigan led 13-12, and they outscored Maryland 41-12 over the rest of the half. The onslaught started with a Robinson three, continued with seven straight points from Jaaron Simmons, included consecutive Poole threes, and Rahkman helped slam the door from there. Even a flubbed alley-oop attempt from Simpson to Robinson wound up resulting in two made free throws from Rahkman, in addition to his banked-in wing three and a ridiculous step-back three over Joshua Tomaic.

It was the best half Michigan has played this season, by far. Per SCACC Hoops, the Wolverines scored 1.64 points per possession and allowed just 0.76 - outscoring any team by almost a point per possession over an entire half is absurd, let alone in a road conference game. They made eleven threes (six of which came from Rahkman) and had an effective field goal percentage that was more than twice as high as Maryland’s. They only turned it over once after their initial struggles. Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando combined for 17 points, but the rest of Maryland’s players only had seven. Rahkman and company utterly silenced a pretty decent crowd, and they put the game on cruise control in the second half.

There were a few interesting things in that extended garbage time. Maryland started the half with the smallest lineup Michigan has seen all year, with 6’4 wing Darryl Morsell at the five; at first, it caused Michigan some problems on the offensive end, but eventually the Wolverines settled in after a few post entries and pick-and-roll dishes to the big men. The Terrapins got into the bonus early in the second half, as Anthony Cowan woke up and attacked the rim often - he finished with a team-high 17 points. Michigan also made a concerted effort to get Matthews involved, which paid off: he had a few nice drives that resulted in layups, and knocked down two threes from his left corner. After being held scoreless in the first half, he finished with 11 points.

In the end, Maryland was unable to get the deficit closer than 19 points, and Michigan played what was its most dominant performance since its target practice against the non-conference minnows at the end of December. There were some solid stints off the bench - Poole had 12 points in 12 first half minutes, and Robinson and Simmons each scored 7 - and Matthews had some encouraging plays, but the star was undoubtedly Rahkman. He had a career high 28 points, and also chipped in with 7 assists and 8 rebounds. Starting with the Purdue loss a month ago, he’s averaged 16.9 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.6 rebounds over a nine-game sample.

Michigan’s final three games were effectively toss-ups, and they won all three decisively: taking care of Ohio State at home, holding on against Penn State in Happy Valley, and then obliterating Maryland in College Park. The latest win moves Michigan up to 24-7 (13-5 Big Ten) and 15th nationally in Kenpom, and depending on tomorrow’s Nebraska - Penn State game, they might get a double bye in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. For context, last season’s Big Ten Tournament champion and Sweet 16 team finished the regular season at 20-11 (10-8 Big Ten) and 27th nationally in Kenpom.


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[Sherman]

Box score after the JUMP


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Comments

J.

February 24th, 2018 at 3:43 PM ^

Poole's great in the Microwave role.  I wouldn't want to mess with that, even if it means a few extra minutes of Matthews.

Also, keep in mind that the freshmen have now played as much (or more) competitve basketball in a season as they ever have in their lives.  The "freshman wall" is a real thing, and I'd rather see Poole stay fresh in limited minutes than wear himself out by starting.

(He's getting close to a starter's minutes anyway -- 22 today, 26 at PSU, 19 vs. OSU)

Yessir

February 24th, 2018 at 7:22 PM ^

They played effortlessly down the stretch offensively and defensively.

I was thinking today  that I haven't even been thinking about next years team lately, cuz we've been playing so good.  

J.

February 24th, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

Michigan was 14th in KenPom when the UM/MD result was posted.  Tennessee's slightly larger-than-expcted win in Oxford pushed them back ahead by four ten-thousandths of a point per possession.

victors2000

February 24th, 2018 at 3:45 PM ^

Dominating! Even the second half, with us taking the air out of the ball, wasn't too bad; any time they threatened to make it a game we poked a hole in that bubble. Earlier in the year I didn't see this team making it past the field of 32 but now I'm beginning to believe they got it in them.

YoOoBoMoLloRoHo

February 24th, 2018 at 3:48 PM ^

Really appreciated the persistence in the 2nd half to not let MD get below 20. Even when MD had a little momentum, the guys had a quality set at the offensive end to push the lead back up. Guys seem to be finding their roles (Simmons, Mathews, Poole) just in time for the tourney.

Go Blue

L'Carpetron Do…

February 25th, 2018 at 12:57 AM ^

Yes I agree.  I was at the game and was thinking of Wisconsin's big comeback the other day and I started to get a little nervous that they might let them back in it. 

But, it never happened. That's great work.  Maryland did make a little run but Michigan snuffed it out so it wasn't a prolonged one like at Wisconsin.  

I think that this team has really turned the corner. A few weeks ago, an ugly scoring drought and some foul trouble would've made this one a lot more nerve-wracking.  I'm ready for March - the Beilein February Surge is complete and this thing is fully operational.

J.

February 24th, 2018 at 4:02 PM ^

KenPom introduced a new stat this year of dominance -- basically, the area between the win probability line and the axis; the greater the area, the more you dominated the opponent.

This win clocks in at #99 out of all DI-DI games this season, including things like the #1 game of San Diego State vs. Sacramento State.

Looking at the 98 more dominant games, most of them are big conference vs little conference games (although I enjoy seeing Indiana State 90, Indiana 69 at #40 :).  Only two other losing teams were in the top 50 when the game was played -- OSU 83 @ #32 Wisconsin 58 in December and Texas Tech 85 vs #36 Northwestern 49 in November.  There may be a trend there. :)

Given the way that the rest of the season played out for those two teams, you could make a legitimate case that this was the most dominant win over a good opponent of the season.