Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad
Could we ask for a more unpredictable matchup? Both of these teams have knocked off top 10 teams, and have looked less than stellar in others. Michigan (5-1) beat then #4 UCLA in New York in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. In the final they were blown out by Duke, not a bad loss, but then they needed overtime to knock off lowly Savannah State. Maryland (4-2) won convincingly over #6 Michigan State in the first round of the Old Spice Classic, and then was defeated handily by Gonzaga and Georgetown in their next two games.
The Wolverines are looking to establish themselves in the Big Ten. They are one of a few teams, along with Minnesota and Illinois, who have the potential to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. They are led by Manny Harris, a popular pick for Big Ten Player of the Year. Harris, a great rebounding guard, can simply put the ball in the hole, whether it be slashing in the lane or hitting a deep three. He really needs to cut down the turnovers and improve his shot selection. Perhaps the best 6th Man in the conference, DeShawn Sims comes off the bench to provide Michigan an imposing presence in the post. A guy I really like from this team is the lightning-quick Kelvin Grady. Grady only scores 2.2 points a game, but he is one of many Wolverine players who are able to step up. Aside from Sims and Harris, they do not have anyone who averages over 5 points a game, but a lot of guys who get their baskets when needed.
The Terps are also looking to get some recognition in the ACC this year. Gary Williams’ squad has a lot of talent, led by the do it all wingman Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez leads Maryland in scoring, rebounding and assists, similar to what Harris does for the Wolverines. The three point shooting of Maryland has been lackluster, but one guy who is knocking them down is the heart and soul of this team, Dave Neal. Neal doesn’t shoot a lot of threes (he only shot 22 in 3 years prior to this season), but has improved enough to make the three part of his arsenal. The Terrapins are a team who, despite leaning on Vasquez for a lot of production, has a balanced scoring attack. They will certainly look to get the ball inside against John Beilein’s tough 1-3-1 zone. Duke had success in the paint against Michigan, and Dave Neal will play a crucial role in the Terps success.
Maryland is slipping fast, and this is a game that they have to win. I think the Terrapins do just enough to get it done. Watch for both of these teams as the season progresses, they are “sneaking around the chicken coop”, as Lee Corso might say. Both of these teams have NCAA Tournament potential, and both want & need another big win to go on their resume.
Winner: Maryland Margin: 1-4 points
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About Blake Hofstad
An avid sports fan, you can nearly always find Blake Hofstad playing, watching, writing or just talking sports. His favorite team is the Wisconsin Badgers, and he is a huge Big Ten and Missouri Valley fan. The two things he hates about college basketball are Duke and the love Duke gets from most media members. You can find more of Blake's work on Onlinesportsfanatic.com.