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Preview: No. 13 Maryland Terrapins, No. 9 Michigan Wolverines battle for first place in Big Ten

With only a few regular-season games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament, two of the conference’s premiere programs in the Maryland Terrapins and Michigan Wolverines will meet this Sunday in a battle for first place.

Michigan v Maryland
Naz Hillmon and Michigan dealt Maryland perhaps its worst loss of the season back in January, but things have changed for both programs since then.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The No. 13 Maryland Terrapins (20-6, 12-3 Big Ten) will visit the No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (20-4, 11-3 Big Ten) on Sunday, Feb. 20 in an important matchup between two of the Big Ten’s top programs. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 3 p.m. ET and will air on the Big Ten Network.

With the Big Ten Tournament rapidly approaching on Mar. 2 and only a week remaining in regular-season conference play, a handful of teams are still jockeying for position atop the conference standings. Maryland and Michigan are two of them, and with the Indiana Hoosiers (19-5, 11-3 Big Ten) recently losing to Iowa, Sunday’s game holds major implications for both the Terrapins and the Wolverines in their quest for a regular-season title.

There’s no Big Ten team hotter than the Terrapins, who have won eight straight games entering Sunday’s contest, and after a somewhat shaky start to the season, have returned to the dominant form Big Ten fans have come to expect. Health hasn’t necessarily been on Maryland’s side — 2021 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award winner Ashley Owusu has missed time due to an ankle injury and wing Diamond Miller continues to work back from early-season knee troubles — but that hasn’t stopped the Terrapins, who currently rank fifth in Division I in points per game (80.3) and third in offensive efficiency (110.1 points scored per 100 possessions, per Her Hoop Stats).

The emergence of Angel Reese, of course, has certainly helped. The second-year forward has continued her breakout sophomore campaign for Maryland, recently recording a pair of massive double-doubles against Ohio State and Iowa.

Reese and the Terrapins are now faced with a Michigan team that, despite losing its last two games, should not be taken lightly. The Wolverines dealt Maryland its worst loss of the 2021-22 season to date on Jan. 16, holding the high-powered Terrapins to just 49 points on their home court. Maryland shot 31.4 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers in the game, which the Wolverines will certainly be trying to replicate on Sunday — even if reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Naz Hillmon (nine points and eight rebounds on Jan. 16) has another quiet performance by her incredibly high standards.

Michigan has yet to lose on its home court this season (12-0), which certainly bodes well for the Wolverines on Sunday. They’ve struggled with injuries as well, though, with the absence of wing Leigha Brown (lower leg injury) exposing Michigan’s lack of perimeter scoring to complement Hillmon’s low-post play. Brown, who scored 15 points the last time Michigan faced Maryland, hasn’t played since Jan. 31, though she has been spotted warming up prior to recent Wolverines games. How Michigan chooses to handle Brown’s recovery will have a big impact on Sunday’s game, and the team’s chances of winning the Big Ten regular-season title.

Game information

No. 13 Maryland Terrapins (20-6, 12-3 Big Ten) vs. No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (20-4, 11-3 Big Ten)

When: Sunday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. ET

Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI

How to watch: Big Ten Network

Keys to the matchup: “We’re trying to figure out where we can make up 15 points per game,” commented Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico on Brown’s injury. Although it would surprise absolutely no one to see Hillmon (20.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game) put up big numbers, the Wolverines probably won’t be holding the Terrapins to 49 points again, either, which raises the question of where they’ll be getting the scoring to match Maryland. Expect Michigan to try to keep the pace of the game slow; there are few teams in the country that can hang with the Terrapins in transition, so rebounding and ball security will be of utmost importance for the Wolverines.