Fri, 20 May 2022

Michigan and Maryland square off, hoping for a turning point

Field Level Media
18 Jan 2022, 06:55 GMT+10

Two months ago, Michigan was ranked No. 4 and Maryland was No. 20. Those were the good old days.

Tuesday night's Big Ten matchup between the Wolverines and visiting Terrapins in Ann Arbor pits teams in freefall. Michigan (7-7, 1-3) has lost three in a row, while Maryland (9-8, 1-5) has lost four of its last five.

The Wolverines and Terps occupy two of the bottom four rungs in the Big Ten standings. It's been a hard tumble for both teams: Michigan is the defending regular season conference champion, and Maryland tied for the title two seasons ago.

Michigan's 68-53 loss Friday at Illinois became the subject of conjecture as Hunter Dickinson, the team's top scorer (16.1 points per game) and rebounder (8.8 per game), and key reserve Brandon Johns Jr. sat out the entire game despite being cleared to play coming off COVID-19 protocol.

"Those two guys haven't had much practice time at all, being out with COVID," coach Juwan Howard said. "I didn't feel comfortable putting them out there in a game with no practice time."

Without their top two post defenders, the Wolverines had no answer for Illini powerhouse Kofi Cockburn, who posted 21 points and 10 rebounds. It was the second straight game in which Michigan never led, after trailing Rutgers the whole way.

Maryland didn't have that problem against Rutgers on Saturday, when Terps raced to an 11-point halftime lead. But in the second half, Maryland shot 25 percent from the floor and had nine turnovers, and the game quickly deteriorated to a 70-59 defeat.

"We didn't finish it the way we need to," said interim coach Danny Manning.

Michigan got the best of Maryland last year, capturing all three matchups by double-digit margins, including the last one in the Big Ten tournament, which ended with some bad blood.

In that quarterfinal matchup in March, Howard was ejected during a heated disagreement with then-Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. Afterward, Turgeon alleged that during the confrontation, the Michigan coach had threatened to kill him.

With Maryland off to a 5-3 start this year, Turgeon abruptly stepped down, leaving Manning in charge. Manning and Howard were teammates briefly with the Dallas Mavericks 20 years ago.

--Field Level Media

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