Preview: Maryland basketball looks to break even vs. Michigan

Michigan (10-7, 4-2) vs. Maryland (11-6, 2-4)

When: Jan. 19, 7 PM

TV: ESPN; Brian Custer (pxp), Robbie Hummel (analyst)

Radio: 980 AM (DC); 105.7 FM (Baltimore)

The last time Maryland basketball (11-6, 2-4 Big Ten) stepped on the court against the Michigan Wolverines (10-7, 4-2 Big Ten), it got ugly for the Terps quickly. Why? Hunter Dickinson, that’s why. He put up a 32-point and 12-rebound performance and at times, it looked like it was too easy out there. The Wolverines also exposed the Terps’ biggest weakness, their lack of depth in the front court. Both Julian Reese and Patrick Emilien fouled out of the game, and the Terps weren’t able to establish a post presence or drive to the basket effectively. This forced them to be one-dimensional and live or die by the three-point shot.

Head coach Kevin Willard knows his frontcourt will benefit with a healthy Julian Reese available. “I think he’s in a much better rhythm, but you have to give credit where credit’s due. I mean he’s doing that to a lot of people, he’s just not doing that to us,” Willard said Wednesday. “I think he’s having a really, really good year, as good as anybody in the conference. We need to make major adjustments cuz we can’t let him do what he did but at the same time, everyone’s having a really big issue with him.”

The bad news is Maryland will be without Patrick Emilien, who missed last game sporting a walking boot along the sideline. Willard admitted he doesn’t see Emilien “playing any time soon” while Donta Scott is limited due to an illness. “Cal [Swanton-Rodger] has got to step up and [Pavlo Dziuba] is gonna have to get some minutes because Donta’s been sick the last three days, so Donta’s kind of, I don’t know how many minutes Donta will get tomorrow.”

The good news for the Terps is they’ll be back in Xfinity Center for Thursday night’s matchup as they look to move to 9-1 at home. They’ll have to set the tone early with their defense and be physical. At times this season, they’ve been able to use the full-court press to their advantage. Scoring makes it even more effective, so the Terps can’t afford to have a sluggish start with sloppy turnovers. They’ll look to lean on Jahmir Young, who has finished in double figures in five of the last six games.

“I think he’s been much more aggressive getting into the lane. He’s been much more aggressive driving the basketball. I think early on against some of the bigger teams, he kind of settled a little bit just because of, again, not being used to the size. I think he’s progressed tremendously to now where I think we all feel comfortable when he goes into the lane something good’s gonna happen. Even the other night he missed a layup and he missed a dunk, but it’s such a better alternative than us settling for jump shots early in the shot clock. So, I mean, him getting there to me has been a huge, huge plus and he’s been doing it on the road, which is to me shows that he’s getting used to being in tough places, playing against good, very good basketball teams and playing at a high level.”

Maryland basketball has an opportunity to gain momentum with a win over Michigan at home. After that, they go on the road to play the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (17-1, 6-1 Big Ten) on Sunday and the Wisconsin Badgers (12-5, 4-3 Big Ten) at home next Wednesday.

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