Preview: Maryland Basketball Resumes Big Ten Play vs. Michigan

Maryland (10-3, 1-1) at Michigan (7-5, 1-0)

When: 4:37 PM

TV: FS1; Brandon Gaudin (pxp), Donny Marshall (analyst)

Radio: 105.7 (Baltimore), 980 AM (DC)

Line: Maryland -1

After coming out of a grueling four-game stretch, Maryland was able to hit the rest button as they took care of business against Saint Peter’s and UMBC to close the book on non-conference play. Now comes Big Ten play where head coach Kevin Willard and the Terps will look to get back over .500 in league play.

Maryland heads north to face Michigan in the first matchup of the season and second ever time that head coach Kevin Willard has gone up against the Wolverines. While Maryland and Michigan have enjoyed more spirited contests in recent years, Sunday afternoon’s game should have a different flavor with Michigan looking to get back on track. After falling to fifth-ranked UNC at home, the Wolverines dropped to 7-5 after falling 63-61 to Central Michigan just eight days later. “They were more physical than us and more prepared than our team. It starts with me as a coach,” Michigan head coach Juwan Howard said following the loss. The Wolverines haven’t been able to top a ranked team so far this season after losing by a combined 16 points against Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina, but they’ll return Hunter Dickinson who will test the Terps’ frontcourt.

The good news for Maryland is Julian Reese will be rested after returning to action versus UMBC and practicing through the week, giving the Terps a chance in the paint. “I was happy with the minutes he was able to get,” Willard said following the win over UMBC. “He had seven full days off so seven days, no basketball, no contact. He’s only had two practices so he’s going to be rusty, he’s going to look a little rusty. He kind of couldn’t get in the flow of the game but I thought to play the minutes he did, again against a good basketball team, I was very happy with where he was.”

Howard, meanwhile, knows that rebounding is a concern for his team too after losing the battle on the boards 44-32 while allowing 17 offensive rebounds. “I knew at one point that it would catch up to us. If you go back to the other four losses, it was rebounding. It takes being more dialed into boxing out, which is the basics. Do not allow the basics to be boring because boring is good. It works. Then you have to go and pursue the basketball. I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it from any of our guys tonight.”

While Willard will now enter his first round of conference play in the Big Ten, there’s a steady sense of confidence in preparation going into the new year. “As conference play goes on, it actually becomes easier for the staff and the kids because they’ve seen the teams so many times,” Willard added. Still with UMBC serving as the final tune-up game of the season, Willard and the staff worked to iron out the kinks over the last two weeks in preparation for the competitive upcoming slate.

“We’ve made some huge adjustments over the last two, three days just trying to mess with our playbook a little bit to get ready for conference play,” Willard added last week. “But I think this team has done a pretty good job. We don’t switch anything up defensively, you really can’t do that this time of year. I’ve always been a big believer in you can change your offense a little bit to kind of help you as you get into late January [and] February.”

Tipoff is set for 4:37 PM.

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