The hottest team in the Big Ten, No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball (20-6, B1G 12-3), enters the last week of the regular season with two more games against ranked opponents, starting with No. 9 Michigan (20-4, B1G 11-3) on Sunday afternoon.
Maryland is peaking at the right time, with eight straight wins, and moved into first place in the Big Ten standings courtesy of No. 22 Iowa’s, 96-91, upset victory against No. 5 Indiana on Saturday. Iowa’s win also bumped Michigan up to second place.
The Terps are coming off two especially impressive wins over ranked Ohio State and Iowa teams to improve their record against top 25 teams to 3-5.
“This final stretch is what March looks like,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “I love the fact right now they’re getting this mini stretch to prepare them for what lies ahead.”
The Terps have been spreading the ball around well despite guard Ashley Owusu missing her four straight games with a sprained ankle. Owusu is still day-to-day.
Forward Angel Reese has dominated with Owusu out scoring 15 or more points and corralling at least nine rebounds in Owusu’s absence.
Guard Diamond Miller has also been playing really well, scoring double figures in six straight games after an early season knee injury forced her to miss time.
While the Terps have been trending upwards, Michigan has faltered down the stretch, falling to Michigan State and Northwestern on the road.
Michigan and Maryland squared off back on Jan. 16 where the Wolverines handily defeated the Terps, 69-49, in an ugly game all the way around for Maryland.
“I think the positive thing you can take out of it is that we are a much different team now then we were a month ago,” Frese said. “It was a big wake up call.”
In their previous matchup, no Terp scored over nine points while Michigan outrebounded Maryland 38-23 and shot 50% from beyond the arc with guard Maddie Nolan making seven threes.
“We really got to run people off the three point line,” guard Shyanne Sellers said. “[We got to] contain Naz [Hillmon], she’s a big body post that has been doing well.”
Hillmon is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and a former All-American and is a double-double threat. She averages 20.6 points per game and 9.1 rebounds a game. Hillman has scored 20 or more points in six of the last seven games for the Wolverines.
The winner of this game either stays or moves into first place in the Big Ten standings. Fans can watch the game on Sunday at 3 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.