Friday, February 15, 2019

Green’s five things to watch for in Saturday’s showdown between No. 24 Maryland and No. 6 Michigan

Photo Credit: Leon Halip- Getty Images

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

The race for the Big Ten regular season title continues to throw curveballs left and right as Saturday’s Top 25 matchup with No. 24 Maryland and No. 6 Michigan provides another piece of the puzzle in a bounce back season for the league. Here are my five things to watch from Ann Arbor.

1) Terrapins rising behind Cowan:

Fresh off a 70-56 home win against No. 12 Purdue on Feb. 12, Maryland comes into Saturday’s game playing its best basketball of the season behind Anthony Cowan Jr’s team-high 16.0 points per game, to go along with 4.5 assists per game.

Cowan’s skillset even expands to the perimeter with 49 three-pointers on the season, which is tied for a team-best along with freshman Aaron Wiggins.

2) Bruno the beast:

Any good team needs someone who can complement outside shooting and sophomore big man Bruno Fernando provides an instant punch in the paint. Fernando averages a double-double with 14.6 PPG and 10.7 rebounds per game, to go along with a conference best 66.8 shooting percentage.

In the 14-point win against Purdue, Fernando notched his seventh straight game with a double-double (12 points and 12 rebounds). Fernando’s quest for another double-double will not be an easy task as Michigan center Jon Teske’s size at 7-foot-2 could throw some curveballs with his versatile skillset on both sides of the ball.

3) The rise of Teske:

While Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson and Ignas Brazdeikis have made the most impact for the Wolverines’ offense, John Teske’s contributions have not gone unnoticed.

The junior’s game continues to blossom with a 19-point, 12-rebound outing in a 61-52 win over Wisconsin on Feb. 19, but his shot blocking has been the calling card with a Big Ten-best 2.20 blocks per game. Teske’s frame against Fernando’s athleticism and strength will be a matchup to watch for.

4) Wounded Wolverines:

There is no worse feeling in sports than losing to a team you are supposed to and Michigan became victim as it played one of its sloppier games of the season in a 75-69 loss on the road to bottom dweller Penn State on Feb. 12. 

Coach John Beilein received back-to-back technical fouls for arguing with officials shortly after the end of the first half in State College.

Beilein did not comment to the media about what triggered the outburst, but will be back on the sidelines for the Maryland game as Michigan looks to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since Feb. 4, 2017.

5) First meeting as ranked foes:

Given the schools’ rich histories, it is hard to believe that Saturday’s meeting between the Terrapins and Wolverines are the first where both teams are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

Despite Maryland’s success at 19-6 this season, the meeting at Crisler Center should serve as extra motivation after being swept by Michigan last season in both meetings— 68-67 on Jan. 15, 2018 and 85-61 on Feb. 24, 2018.

Sit back, relax and have your favorite craft beer because Saturday afternoon will be a treat to watch.