Maryland Terrapins vs. Michigan Wolverines Pick 2/16/19
Maryland Terrapins (19-6 SU, 13-11-1 ATS) vs. Michigan Wolverines (22-3 SU, 13-12 ATS)
When: Saturday, February 16, 2019 – Noon ET
Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Point Spread: N/A
Last Time Out: Maryland beat Purdue 70-56; Michigan lost 75-69 to Penn State.
Scouting the Terps:
Taking the longest road trip in the Big Ten didn’t bother Maryland a bit, as the Terrapins went out to Lincoln and handily beat Nebraska, then came home and took care of business against Purdue. That two-game stretch has suddenly vaulted the Terrapins into the conversation for the Big Ten title, and with a win in Ann Arbor, Maryland would suddenly vault itself into a first-place tie with just five games to play and one of those being a return game with the Wolverines. The key for the Terrapins has been defense, as they’re 5-0 in their past eight when they hold the opponent under 65 points, but have lost all three when the opposition breaks that number.
Scouting the Wolverines:
Losing to Wisconsin and Iowa on the road was understandable. Losing to Penn State, however, was much less acceptable from the Wolverines, and it’s thrown their Big Ten title hopes into a flux. Michigan’s vaunted defense has been its calling card all year, but cracks have shown for the first time this season, cracks have begun to show in the Wolverines’ lockdown D. Penn State made six of its 15 triples in this game to keep the Wolverines at bay, and if Michigan can’t deny good looks at the basket, it’s going to find itself having more struggles in the immediate future.
Intimidation. Michigan’s Crisler Center has beaten many opponents this season before the game has even started because of how good the Wolverines are in their building. However, Maryland might be the one team in the Big Ten that can withstand the pressures that come with playing in Ann Arbor. The Terrapins have already won at Nebraska, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Rutgers, and they’ve only played two home games in the past month thanks to their home game with Illinois being moved to New York. Maryland isn’t likely to be intimidated by the prospect of yet another road game, and the Terrapins are likely to come in to try to take the crowd out of the game. Michigan will have to try to get off to a fast start to throw Maryland’s confidence off and take control.
Maryland will Cover if:
The Terrapins can dominate on the boards. The key constant in Michigan’s losses to Iowa and Penn State was that the Hawkeyes and the Nittany Lions both shot above 40 percent from the 3-point arc and punished the Wolverines on the glass, winning the rebound battle by double digits. That second sentence plays right into Maryland’s game plan because by rebounding margin, the Terrapins are the second-best rebounding team in the nation. Maryland pulls down 40 rebounds a night and wins the battle of the boards by 10 rebounds a night on average. If that happens again, the Terrapins have an excellent shot in this game.
Michigan will Cover if:
The Wolverines can get their offense going. Much like Virginia, Michigan starts with defense and uses that as its calling card, but the Wolverines need their offense firing in order to go from being a good team to a special team. Against teams that can shoot it well and give themselves second chances, Michigan has proven itself vulnerable, and the way to battle back is to score and keep pace. The Wolverines have to be ready to do that to combat Maryland’s advantages on the glass.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Am I really willing to make the gamble on Maryland going into Ann Arbor and coming out with the cover? Actually, I am, for one main reason: the Terrapins are experts at collecting second-chance points. That’s how you beat a defense-first mentality, and that’s why I think Maryland can keep this closer than people might think. The Terrapins have the defense needed to get a result and the rebounding prowess necessary to turn Michigan’s philosophy on its head, which could make an upset an interesting possibility.
I don’t think Maryland necessarily wins the game, but I think the Terrapins’ strengths bode well toward keeping them in this contest. Throw in the fact that the Wolverines are struggling at the things that they usually do successfully, and Maryland looks like the better option in this game. Give me the Terrapins here.