By Heiko "4 AD" Yang
Today will be the last time Michigan’s seniors will be playing a football game in the Big House.
Just like the team’s record, the excitement and emotion surrounding senior day has waned over the past few years. We all remember senior day 2011: Molk, Martin, Koger, Van Bergen, et al. were regaled as heroes for pulling Michigan out of the most tumultuous stretch in program history (or so we thought), and then they cemented their legacy by beating Ohio State. Senior day 2012 was a sad farewell to Denard and Kovacs, but happily it was also the debut of Denard Robinson, Offensive Weapon. Last year’s senior day was an inevitable disappointment. Still, there were moments of – I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but when Jeremy Gallon took the first play 70-some yards to the goal line, you just felt like he deserved better, and you knew you were going to miss him.
This year, struggling for bowl eligibility against a crappy Maryland team on a cold and crappy November afternoon is a crappy but fitting way to go out. At the end of a disappointing season you should at least be able use senior day as a way to recognize the guys that did something significant to mitigate the disaster – guys who held the team together maybe made enough of a difference that the rest of the team can build on, if not for the current season, maybe the next one. Did anyone do that this year? I don’t know, man. Maybe it was Hoke’s fault for not naming captains, or it was the previous year’s captains’ fault for making it seem like leadership was a dangerously overrated thing. Either way, screaming at your teammates on the sidelines that you really want to beat Penn State isn’t that impressive.
There’s not much of a legacy to be left here. Sure, we’ll remember individual guys like Jake Ryan as being great players, but #Team135 will never be toasted at reunions or enshrined in a display case in Schembechler Hall, which is crazy when you consider that some of these guys own school records (remember Gardner’s 2013 Indiana game?). It’s hard to even credit these guys as a critical transition class, which is ironic because a lot of them were recruited during the transition between Rich Rod and Hoke. But just as they weren’t really critical to the brief renaissance in 2011, they haven’t been setting up for the future success of Michigan football either.
I’m sorry for being such a downer (just wait until you read Counterpunt), but that’s how I feel about the fact that it’s senior day and how aware but not fully aware I was about it until now. I still think this team has a pretty good shot at beating Maryland and becoming bowl eligible, especially with Maryland’s top receivers out. Not having Frank Clark is going to hurt the defense, but with the second bye week, I’m optimistic that the offense has addressed some of the brain farting to pick up some of the slack.
Yes, it’s cold and rainy, but you know what? I have a feeling this turns out to be a fun, albeit ridiculous, game. That, if anything, would be a fitting end to this senior class’s career at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan 23, Maryland 22
By Nick RoUMel
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on, and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself in Jäger and skip out for beer during commercials.
Because the devolution will not be televised.
The devolution will not be brought to you by Coke, or Kraft macaroni and cheese. It will not feature Jim Harbaugh blowing a bugle and leading a charge, cutting down Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio from their high horses.
The devolution will not be led by the triumvirate of Jeff Long, Brad Bates, and Warde Manuel followed by an army of Michigan Men. Because the devolution will not be televised.
There will be no instant replay of Desmond Howard making the Catch or striking the Pose. There will be no slow-motion montage of Tom Brady or Charles Woodson highlights. Because the devolution will not be televised.
You will no longer hear the speech about The Team, The Team, The Team. You will no longer hear '70's rock songs about South Detroit, or other places that don't exist. You will not drink! drink! drink! with Neil Diamond or Sweet Caroline.
You will hear pundits speak In low, funereal voices about Michigan football. Jim Brandstatter will say "tough game, Coach." Fans will murmur, helplessly, leaving the stadium.
Because the devolution will not be televised. The devolution will be live.
MARYLAND 20, MICHIGAN 16
* with apologies to the late, great Gil Scott Heron.
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Maryland|
Ann Arbor, Michigan
November 21st, 2014
|THE LINE||M -5|
|TICKETS||Starting at nine(!) dollars|
|WEATHER||cloudy, 60% chance of rain, temps in mid-30s with a 10-15 mph wind. could have freezing rain in the AM.|
Prepare yourselves. The weather report indicates the dreaded "wintry mix" will fall upon Ann Arbor tomorrow morning before turning into scattered showers as the game temperature hangs around 40 with a windchill of freezing. Fandom Endurance badges may be required.
It's also Senior Day. Michigan will bid farewell to 12 players. One is Devin Gardner, and if he doesn't receive a thunderous ovation...
The guy's played for three different offensive coordinators, two head coaches and he's been asked to line up at two separate positions. Yet, through it all, he's never stopped giving everything he has.
Not to his team, and not to his community.
"I'm becoming a man here, and I thank God for this adversity," Gardner said earlier this season. "I'm becoming a better man."
...I'll lose quite a bit of faith in humanity.
It's a great time to familiarize yourself with the remarkable stories off the guys who don't see their names in print all that often, too. For example, Alex Mitropolous-Rundus, who'll get the Senior Day treatment despite spending his high school years on the drumline, not the football team.
Also being honored tomorrow: Brennen Beyer, Joey Burzynski, Anthony Capatina, Will Hagerup, Delonte Hollowell, Jonathan Keizer, Jake Ryan, Alex Swieca, Raymon Taylor, and Matt Wile.
The opponent is Maryland, a mediocre squad that's played to form this season, beating the teams they should while dropping games against West Virginia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. Michigan, of course, needs another win for bowl eligibility, and this is their best shot at it.
Run Offense vs Maryland
Andre Monroe is a disruptive 3-4 DE
Maryland's rush defense grades out as mediocre on the advanced metrics, and that passes the sanity test for a squad that's limited the lesser running games they've faced (WVU, Penn State, USF, Iowa) and given up big yardage to the good ones (Indiana, OSU, MSU, Wisconsin ... and, er, Syracuse).
The Terps are very experienced in the front seven of their 3-4 defense; every starter is a senior save OLB Yannick Ngakoue, a talented sophomore who splits time with senior Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil. (Yes, seriously, two Yannicks at one position.) Nose tackle Darius Kilgo is an NFL prospect because he can do more than just take on a double-team; he has seven TFLs this season. Andre Monroe doesn't fit the prototype of anything at 5'11", 282 pounds, but he manages to be very disruptive from his DE spot, albeit more against the pass than the run.
The inside linebackers, Cole Farrand and LA Goree, both play at a stout 245 pounds and are very active between the tackles. Maryland gets a boost with the return of OLB Matt Robinson, who was excellent against the run in 2013 but has missed most of this season with a shoulder injury; he got through last week's game against MSU and should be good to go tomorrow.
Injuries have removed the team's top tackler from his natural spot. Due to significant losses in the secondary (more on that later), strong safety Sean Davis has moved to cornerback, and while he'll be an excellent run support corner, Maryland won't have him flying into the box from the back line. This worked out fine a couple weeks ago against Penn State, a team with no offense to speak of, but MSU managed to tally 242 yards on 47 carries (5.2 YPC) last weekend.
On Michigan's end, Derrick Green has been ruled out this weekend, so De'Veon Smith should get the bulk of the carries after he had his best game of the year against Northwestern.
Key Matchup: The tackles vs. Maryland's attacking OLBs. Robinson has been very limited this season but had 10 TFLs—only 0.5 of which came on a sack—in 2013. On the other side, Ngakoue's had a breakout year with 12.5 TFLs. Ben Braden, especially, has had some trouble against quicker defenders, and these two are both quite disruptive off the edge.
[Hit THE JUMP for the REST of the PREVIEW]
11/20/2014 - Michigan 71, Detroit 62 - 3-0
Blow-by. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Apparently necessary perspective. Hoo boy, I guess making the point that having three players account for over three-quarters of the team's points may not be ideal in the long run equated to PANIC for many. It's admittedly difficult to make a nuanced point in a gamer written moments after the final buzzer, so allow me to flesh this out a little more.
It's November. The team has five scholarship non-freshmen. Of course there are going to be growing pains, areas of concern, and the like at this juncture. That's far from saying those issues won't be resolved, or at least mitigated, as the season progresses; on the flip side, that doesn't mean those areas aren't worth pointing out. Michigan is too reliant on their three starting guards right now. The freshmen centers and Kameron Chatman do have to step up, or there will be too many ways to exploit this team, especially when they face larger opponents.
John Beilein still coaches this team, though. In-season improvement isn't just the hope, it's the established expectation, and one only has to think back to the Charlotte game last season for perspective; every basketball team is going to have their share of ugly outings, and Michigan just beat a team with a pulse by nine in such a game.
Another helpful tack. Take a look at the recent scores of the upcoming marquee opponents on Michigan's schedule.
- Oregon, Michigan's opponent next Monday, went into halftime tied at home against this same Detroit team four days ago. They pulled away and won by 17; if the Titans had decided to start fouling at a reasonable time last night, Michigan's final margin might've been very similar.
- Villanova, the most likely opponent if Michigan advances to the final of the Legends Classic (it'll be 'Nova or VCU), nearly lost to Bucknell—the squad M whomped by 24 points—at home last night, needing a late run to win by a misleading seven points after the Bison took a 65-63 lead with 1:51 remaining. 'Nova also had a six-point second-half deficit against #237 Lehigh in their season opener before pulling away.
- VCU, for their part, had a lot of trouble at home against #113 Toledo on Tuesday. The Rockets held a four-point lead midway through the second half and were as close as one point back with three minutes to play before VCU's press forced a few critical turnovers to close it out.
- Syracuse played Cal in Madison Square Garden last night, a neutral-site game that essentially functioned as a home game. The Bears entered the evening as KenPom's #63-ranked squad. Cal won by 14.
- SMU is now 1-2 thanks to a tough schedule and some ugly play; after losing by 16 at Gonzaga on Monday, they committed 19 turnovers on their way to losing by six at Indiana last night, coughing up a 12-point first-half lead in the process.
So let's not freak out just yet.
Derrick Walton! I think this is something that often comes through better in person than on TV, but Walton's court vision in transition is something to behold. It's tough to run a 3-on-2 break better than this:
The move to initiate the break is slick, but the real moment of excellence here is the little dive into the lane just before the pass; even though Max Bielfeldt's spacing here isn't ideal, Walton forces the two Detroit defenders to collapse into the paint, and in doing so he also shortens the pass to Irvin. Walton could've easily stayed wide to the left and tried a cross-court pass to Irvin, but that would've given the far-side defender time to get out and contest the shot. Instead, he hits Irvin in rhythm, and Detroit can only contest the shot late, which is doom against Irvin.
Walton and Caris LeVert are both rebounding very well—both, in fact, have top-200 defensive rebound rates at this very early juncture—and that's allowing Michigan to get out in transition, where they're absolutely lethal.
A quiet 21-9-3. LeVert's final stat line looked darn impressive despite a very uneven performance. I'd still like to see him finish more of his drives at the rim instead of settling for pull-up jumpers, but he managed to knock down a couple of those shots last night, and at some point you just shrug and let the NBA prospect take NBA shots; LeVert's 46% shooting mark inside the arc matches his percentage from last season, and that's while shouldering a bigger offensive load without Nik Stauskas around to stretch defenses thin.
Meanwhile, LeVert's got a 25.6% assist rate against just a 11.1% turnover rate, his defensive rebound rate ranks 83rd(!) nationally, and he's been very active on defense. When his outside shot starts falling, and it will, he's going to post some absurd stat lines.
The go-to lineup. This is where those lingering concerns come to the forefront. Michigan's best lineup for the past couple games has been Albrecht-Walton-LeVert-Irvin-Bielfeldt, and I don't think that's going to hold up in the long run—the lineup has its considerable upsides but also some major shortcomings.
The positives: Spike Albrecht has been fantastic thus far this year at generating offense for others, and he found his shot last night, too. With him out there, Walton can crash the defensive boards a little more—and subsequently get M out on the break in a hurry—and spot up for those killer corner threes on the other end. This is also Michigan's most experienced lineup, so their halfcourt offense runs smoothly; these guys know where to be, which isn't the case at the moment with the freshmen.
The negatives: Michigan hasn't faced a big, strong-rebounding team yet, and I'm skeptical of how well this lineup will hold up in that regard once they do. That would be a huge problem, as this lineup would have to continue rebounding at a phenomenal rate to make up for the fact that there's zero rim protection with Bielfeldt at the five and Irvin at the four. Detroit had a few disturbingly easy layups against this group when they were able to get past a perimeter defender; once that happened, they didn't face any resistance.
I think this is a stopgap while the freshmen figure it out, and nothing more than a situational lineup against better teams. Detroit didn't have the size or post skill to attack them at their weakest point; that won't be the case in a week, and definitely not in Big Ten season.
Beilein has been visibly frustrated with his freshmen. [Fuller]
Withholding judgment. Kameron Chatman is struggling out there. DJ Wilson has no clue where he's supposed to be on the court. Mark Donnal blew a layup last night. Ricky Doyle put up a two trillion. John Beilein is unhappy with their development, and it's not hard to see why.
Here's where I scream IT'S THREE GAMES INTO THEIR FRESHMAN SEASONS. Chatman has played the most out of any of these guys, a whole 60 minutes across three games. There are people drawing big-picture conclusions about him and the others from seeing them play basketball for an hour or less. One. Hour. These guys get more burn in a single practice than they have so far this season.
TOTALLY RANDOM ASIDE: In Trey Burke's first official game, against Ferris State, he shot 1/7 from the field with a 0:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Chatman's offensive woes have been disconcerting, sure, but he's also missing shots that are going to start falling; he's 1/5 at the rim this season. His field goal misses from the free-throw area have often come off awkward drives; when he had the chance to catch-and-shoot last night, he stroked an 18-footer from the right elbow, a shot that very much looks repeatable. He's shown flashes of being a very good passer. His rebounding rates are passable and should only improve.
Chatman has a ways to go on defense, but he's already advanced in his ability to disrupt passing lanes. Looking at what guys like D'Angelo Russell and James Blackmon Jr. are doing as true freshmen—in less complicated offenses, with entirely different roles—isn't fair to the kid, and a slow start doesn't mean he won't flourish as early as this season.
The bigs have barely played enough to even have a half-baked opinion, let alone a fully-formed one. Just because Beilein finally has the luxury to put a senior, however limited in terms of size and athleticism, out there to show them how it's done doesn't mean Donnal/Doyle/Wilson won't be critical parts of the rotation going forward.
— Sactown Royalty (@sactownroyalty) November 21, 2014
It's gonna be okay, everyone.
Derrick Walton led M's late charge with great transition play. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
They should've known.
Detroit hung with Michigan for most of a rather ugly game, thanks to the hot hand of Juwan Howard Jr. (24 points) and the cold first-half shooting of Michigan. With just 5:38 to play, the upset watch remained in effect with the game tied at 52.
Then Detroit slapped the floor.
Michigan put the game away with an 11-0 run.
If you're confused about the correlation, ask a State fan.
The Wolverines couldn't buy a bucket in the first half, going 10/29 from the field, including an uncharacteristic 3/12 mark from beyond the arc. Neither team looked very good, nor did the officials, who couldn't decide whether to call the game tight or let everything go. The Titans scored on the half's final possession to take a 28-27 lead into the locker room.
The second half didn't begin so well, either, as Detroit extended their lead to four points during a rough stretch for Michigan freshman Kameron Chatman. John Beilein wasted little time going to what would be his best lineup of the night, lifting Chatman for Spike Albrecht and inserting Max Bielfeldt at center. Both provided the support Michigan's three backcourt stars needed; Albrecht dished out four assists, knocked down two threes, and added a steal, while Bielfeldt hauled in five boards and even dished out a couple assists himself.
That allowed the big three to flourish. After a rough first half, Caris LeVert went on a tear in the second stanza, scoring 17 of his team-high 21 points in the final 20 minutes; he also pulled down nine rebounds to nearly tally a double-double. Zak Irvin became the main beneficiary of Walton's fast break exploits, knocking down a couple second-half transition threes on his way to 18 points. Walton finished with 16 points of his own, grabbed three rebounds, and handed out three assists.
Outside of Howard, who needed 24 shot equivalents to score his 24 points, and an usually efficient Brandon Kearney (14 points on 5/6 FG), nobody on Detroit could get much going offensively; Michigan kept the Titans almost entirely off the offensive glass and forced most of their shots to originate from the perimeter, and eventually the Titans flat-lined, going through long stretches of the second half without being able to score.
Michigan managed to weather a bad shooting night to eventually come away with the win, but concerns are mounting as the three stars have been forced to bear what could be an impossible load to carry long-term. The Irvin/LeVert/Walton troika scored over 77% of the team's points tonight, and the freshmen expected to fill major roles either looked lost on the court (Chatman, DJ Wilson) or were disturbingly absent from the rotation as the game wore on (Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle).
That's to be expected, in part, on such a young team with such obvious go-to players, but when the competition steps up significantly on Monday—when Michigan faces an Oregon team in Brooklyn that beat these same Titans by 18 earlier this week—the lack of secondary options is going to become a serious problem.
For now, Michigan's survived unscathed, and there are encouraging signs—one of those, somewhat surprisingly, on defense, where they've owned the boards. Sometime soon, though, this team is going to need one or two of their freshmen to grow up in a hurry.
I unwittingly glutened myself this week, so between that, basketball season getting underway, recruiting staying in a holding pattern, and the football team remaining rather uninspiring, there's no full recruiting roundup or FFFF today. Instead, I'm mashing the two together before I head into town for the Detroit game.
Michigan will receive an official visit this weekend from a highly touted prospect not committed to the Wolverines. Yes, this is probably a surprise to you. This may even be a surprise to the coaches. It's probably not going to amount to a whole lot. But, hey, it's happening, and that's nice.
The recruit in question is four-star receiver Auden Tate, currently a Florida State commit, who's following through on his long-held plan to officially visit Ann Arbor after he got a Michigan offer way back in April. Tate grew up a fan of the program and he's kept in touch with QB commit Alex Malzone throughout the recruiting process. It'd be a surprise if Tate flipped his commitment, but heck, it's a surprise he's taking this trip in the first place.
Three-star Oak Park ATH John Kelly will also be in attendance as an unofficial visitor. The other 2015 recruits set to be at the game are current commits: Malzone and Grant Newsome, both of whom have remained steadfast in their pledges throughout this tumultuous season. Malzone may be joined by his Brother Rice teammate and primary target, 2015 WR Grant Perry, though Perry may choose to visit Northwestern instead.
[Hit THE JUMP for commit updates, Iman Marshall's very interesting visit plans, a couple more recruiting nuggets, and Seth's lineup diagrams for the Maryland game.]
Site note: Brian's under the weather today, so content is going to be relatively light.
Michigan (2-0) vs.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||6:00 pm Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -16 (KenPom)|
PBP: Kevin Kugler
Analyst: Shon Morris
THE NAMES THAT LOOK FAMILIAR
Yes, that's that Carlton Brundidge, the highest-ranked guard in Michigan's recruiting class of 2011, alongside that Penn State decommit who didn't have the size to play big time basketball. Brundidge played sparingly in 15 games for the Wolverines before transferring to Detroit in 2012.
Yes, that's that Juwan Howard Jr. (photo via Lost Lettermen), son of Juwan Howard, a rather famous Michigan basketball player on some pretty noteworthy teams. I think this is a great opportunity to discuss the Fab Fab for a whi--
I'm being told this isn't a great opportunity after all.
Let's just watch some Bacari Alexander highlights from his time as a Detroit Titan instead:
I'm sure none of this will be discussed ad nauseam during the telecast.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are still from last season for now. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open.
|G||5||Matthew Grant*||So.||6'0, 177||55||18||Sort of|
|Slides over to point after starting last year as low-usage shooting guard. Iffy shot.|
|G||12||Brandon Kearney||Sr.||6'6, 188||9||16||Yes|
|The former Spartan, now a grad transfer via Arizona State. Turnover-prone.|
|G||1||Anton Wilson||Jr.||6'5, 206||55||14||No|
|Gunner off the bench LY; 36% 3PT shooter, nearly 3/4 of shots from beyond arc.|
|F||2||Juwan Howard Jr.*||Sr.||6'5, 232||87||27||Sort of|
|The focal point. Range extends beyond arc (32% 3PT career), volume shooter.|
|C||32||Patrick Ackerman||Jr.||6'10, 218||--||--||--|
|Sat out last season after transfer from Penn State, where he barely played.|
|G||11||Jarod Williams*||So.||6'1, 209||58||20||Yes|
|Not very efficient last year but not bad for FR PG; scored 15 off bench vs. Oregon.|
|F||35||Paris Bass||Fr.||6'7, 187||--||--||--|
|Redshirt fr. 3-star out of Birmingham Seaholm. 8 pts in 21 mins vs. Oregon.|
|F||21||Jaleel Hogan||Fr.||6'6, 233||--||--||--|
|Averaged a double-double at Mount Pleasant HS. 3/4 FT vs. Oregon.|
|G||23||Carlton Brundidge||Jr.||6'2, 204||53||22||Yes|
|Splits between PG and SG; gets to line a lot, still not a good shooter.|
Ray McCallum's Detroit Titans are 1-1 on the season, with a blowout home win over NAIA Rochester (MI) and a blowout road loss at Oregon—Detroit actually held a seven-point first-half lead and were tied with the Ducks at halftime, but were outscored 48-31 in the second half.
Three starters return from last year's 13-19 (6-10 Horizon League) squad, led by Juwan Howard Jr., a preseason first-team all-conference selection. Howard, an undersized but burly power forward, is tasked with putting up a ton of shots—34th nationally last season in shot percentage—that he hits with marginal efficiency: 44% on 349(!) 2PA and 32% on 141 3PA last season. He struggled against a quick Oregon team on Monday, needing 19 shot equivalents to score 16 points while turning it over four times. Howard's effectiveness comes and goes with his jumper; he attempted fewer than 20% of his shots at the rim last season, and he doesn't draw a ton of fouls, though he's an excellent free-throw shooter when he does.
The two other returning starters are now fighting for minutes in a crowded backcourt. Sophomore Matthew Grant is the nominal starter at point guard after playing most of his minutes at the two in 2013-14; he generated most of his offense as a spot-up outside shooter, but hit just 31% of his threes. Fellow sophomore Jarod Williams, last year's starter at the point, came off the bench against Oregon but ended up playing 27 minutes; he's more liable to attack the basket, and he's also an active defender. When both are on the court, Williams is more likely to initiate the offense.
The nomadic Brandon Kearney got the start against Oregon over Williams, but his stat line was downright ugly: 2 points (1/7 FG), 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 4 fouls in 17 minutes. Kearney, the former Michigan State Spartan, spent last season getting very limited minutes at Arizona State before transferring to Detroit for his final year of eligibility. He's never played extensive time, but when he has he's rarely been effective: his shooting numbers are poor, and his freshman-year turnover rate of 24% actually stands as a career best.
Junior Anton Wilson represents Detroit's main (a less-kind previewer could say "only") outside shooting threat after hitting 36% of his shots beyond the arc last season. Over 70% of his shot attempts were three-pointers; he's a gunner through and through.
6'10" junior Patrick Ackerman, a Penn State transfer, gets the nod at center largely by default—he's the only five listed on the roster, and the only rotation player who stands above 6'7". Ackerman barely played at PSU in large part because he was rail-thin, and that still appears to be the case: he's listed at just 218 pounds. Against an Oregon squad that doesn't play anyone taller than 6'7", he went 0/4 with two rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Titans boast some bench depth, especially in the backcourt. In addition to Williams, there's Carlton Brundidge, whose game still revolves around attacking the basket; his free-throw rate topped 45% last season. Unfortunately, his shooting is still decidedly sub-par, with shooting splits of 44/28/67 (2P/3P/FT) in 2013-14. Redshirt freshman Paris Bass actually got more time on Monday; the lanky 6'7" wing scored eight points in 20 minutes, all coming inside the arc.
6'6", 233-pound freshman Jaleel Hogan is the primary big off the bench. He's been pretty efficient in his first two games, going 4/6 against Rochester and getting to the line a couple times against Oregon, though he's got to watch the fouls—six so far in 34 minutes.
Oh, what the heck, let's have fun with tiny sample sizes.
Detroit was a poor shooting team last year and that's carried over to this season thus far; unlike last year, the Titans have struggled on the boards, which will happen when you lose your top three big men.
Stay disruptive. In the early going it looks like Michigan, with inexperience inside but tons of length everywhere on the court, has emphasized getting into passing lanes on defense and going for more steals in general; thus far, that's paid off with a very good turnover rate. Detroit lacks a true point guard in their starting lineup and Williams, who'll get plenty of minutes at the one, posted a turnover rate above 20% last season. Detroit boasts little in the way of outside shooting, so the Wolverines can take some chances defensively and see if they can generate some easy points in transition.
Be ready to help. Detroit is going to try to attack the basket as much as they can, and they've got some players who can be effective off the dribble. If the young bigs are a step slow helping out in the paint, we could see them get into some foul trouble and/or give up some easy buckets. This will be a nice test to see which of the fives is furthest along in terms of defensive awareness, as well as shot-blocking. Given how undersized the Titans are up front, this could be the game for DJ Wilson to get more extensive playing time, as well.
Attack the basket. Detroit has one true big man, and he's built a lot more like me than is ideal for a D-I center. Meanwhile, Michigan has settled a little too readily for midrange shots through two games. It'd be encouraging to see Caris LeVert, especially, finish more of his drives at the basket instead of pulling up. Getting Kameron Chatman in a rhythm would certainly be nice, too.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 16.
Following all the work, Irvin's jumper is better but still different. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"I know I have a weird looking jump shot, but it goes in," he said.
Nothing wrong with weird, Zak.