Michigan looks to stay unbeaten at Maryland

LEFT: Isaiah Livers #2 of the Michigan Wolverines drives to the basket against the UCF Knights during the first half at Crisler Arena on December 06, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) RIGHT: Eric Ayala #5 of the Maryland

To this point, Michigan has been able to handle just about everything that 2020 has thrown at them. The final hours of the year, however, will see the Wolverines face its toughest test to date of the young Big Ten college basketball season.

At 7-0, Michigan’s status as the lone unbeaten team left overall in the toughest conference in college basketball will be tested Thursday night (7 p.m., ESPN2) when they travel to the Xfinity Center to face Maryland, who upset Wisconsin on the road on Monday night to improve to 6-3 overall.

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The series history

The two teams have gone 6-6 in 12 games against one another since the 1949-50 season. That includes one NCAA tournament game in 1993-94, when Michigan beat Maryland 78-71 in the Midwest Regional semifinal. The Wolverines have won four of the last five games but lost to No. 9 Maryland 83-70 last March in the Big Ten regular season finale. Anthony Cowan Jr. had 20 points while Eric Ayala had 19 points for the Terps.

Things to watch for

How has Michigan gotten off to such a good start? They have been great from the floor, hitting on 51.5 percent of their field. They have been balanced with the scoring spread among six players averaging between eight and 15 points per game. Senior forward Isaiah Livers has been a force up front, scoring 15.4 points, adding 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Meanwhile, Hunter Dickinson has been a presence up front and his 13 points, 15 rebound performance against Nebraska in an 80-69 win on Christmas Day. When you add depth like that together, it is a great combination.

Maryland’s win at Wisconsin on Monday night was paced by Ayala, who scored 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the floor and 5-for-5 from the foul line. The Terrapins shot 50 percent from the floor (26-for-52) and 12-of-15 (80 percent) from the foul line- taking advantage of some open looks that the Badgers left. Ayala leads Maryland with 14.7 points a game. Donta Scott is Maryland’s leading rebounder at 6.9 boards a game.

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