"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
|WHAT||Eastern Michigan at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||8:30 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan –24 (Kenpom)|
Right: The World's Most Phallic Building, according to something called Cabinet Magazine.
This evening, Michigan hosts cross-county foe Eastern Michigan, which currently boasts a 6-3 record that includes a win over Purdue. This means they could give Michigan a test, yes?
Well, probably not. Purdue appears to be in serious rebuilding mode, while Eastern's resume is otherwise built on wins over non-DI competition or dregs like Texas Pan American. Relevant game: a 36-point road loss to Syracuse.
The Eagles can post a challenge with their size, however—according to KenPom, they're 11th nationally in effective height. That's in large part (hey-o) due to 7'0" center Da'Shonte Riley, easily the team's best rebounder as well as a major shot-blocking threat (15.6% block rate, #7 nationally) in the middle of their 2-3 zone. Riley—a transfer from Syracuse—lacks deft touch around the basket, shooting just 37.5% this year from the field and 38.9% from the line.
Glenn Bryant, apparently somewhat athletic
6'8" forward and Arkansas transfer Glenn Bryant also provides decent shot-blocking and offensive rebounding, and unlike Riley can occasionally put the ball in the basket, hitting 44.7% of his twos. Unfortunately, Bryant is apparently under the impression he can shoot threes, but has hit just one of his 13 attempts from beyond the arc this year.
The team's wings are also their most effective shooters (a relative term when applied to this EMU squad). 6'3" shooting guard Derek Thompson is their outside threat, with 60% of his attempts coming from three—he's hitting a respectable 38.3% from outside. 6'6" guard/forward Daylen Harrison is a slasher who gets to the line frequently—he's connecting on 52.9% of his twos and 86.2% of his free throws, making him by far the team's best scoring option inside the arc, despite turnover issues. He's also an above-average rebounder on the defensive end.
Rounding out the starting lineup, at least according to EMU's game notes, is 6'2" guard Austin Harper, but he's only averaging 7.6 minutes per game this season. In Harper's limited action, he's been boom-or-bust, with a sky-high assist rate (31.4%) and turnover rate (24.4%). The point guard who sees the most minutes is 5'11" freshman Jalen Ross, who's 7-for-31 from the field this year with assist and turnover rates in the low 30s.
That's nothing compared to backup point Ray Lee, though—the freshman is posting an astounding 39.9% assist rate and 36.9% turnover rate. He's also got an ugly 42.9 eFG% while taking a high number of shots. Do not let Ray Lee get his hands on the Crisler T-Shirt cannon.
Other bench contributors include 6'9" shot-blocking specialist Jamell Harris (36.7 eFG%) and 6'3" guard J.R. Sims (34.8 eFG%).
On second thought, don't let any EMU player near the T-shirt cannon.
Eastern's signature victory came over Purdue, of course; none of their other conquered foes are ranked higher than #259 on KenPom. They've been defeated by #6 Syracuse, #118 Illinois-Chicago, and #212 Jacksonville State, all on the road.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||40.0 (338)||22.7 (252)||34.0 (116)||30.5 (274)|
|Defense||43.7 (47)||24.0 (51)||39.5 (331)||34.8 (153)|
The offense is a mess, with EMU currently sitting at #332 in the country in adjusted efficiency. Slightly above-average offensive rebounding does not cover for horrific shooting, lots of turnover, and infrequent trips to the line.
The defense is surprisingly stout; the 2-3 zone has forced a ton of turnovers, and the going inside is tough, with EMU eighth nationally in block rate. The opponent shooting number is bolstered by opponents shooting just 28.1% from beyond the arc; this is almost assuredly unsustainable with the Eagles allowing three-point attempts—a more accurate portrayal of perimeter defense—on just under 41% of opponent shots.
Bombs away. Trey Burke probably won't be replicating his drive-and-create performance from the West Virginia game—the old adage is you don't beat a 2-3 zone by dribbling through it. If the stats are any indication, however, the perimeter will be open for business. Paging Nik Stauskas:
Meanwhile Nik Stauskas has been lethal, scoring 1.5 points per zone possession with a 82% effective field goal percentage.
Michigan has actually been relatively ineffective against zone defenses this year, though they haven't seen them too often, due in no small part to Stauskas.
Don't miss the gimmes. Eastern has been woeful at keeping opposing teams off the offensive glass. Michigan has been very effective this year at creating second-shot opportunities. The battle of the boards should go in Michigan's favor in a major way. Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary have been known to miss a few easy ones, though. So, please make those, guys.
Let them shoot? EMU's 68.1% mark from the free-throw line is nothing to write home about, but it's positively Stauskian compared to their field goal shooting. Between their awful shooting and large lineup, there's no reason to overplay an open shooter instead of getting in position for rebounds. There will be rebounds.
Keep doin' what you've been doin'. I mean, yeah.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 24. I'm tempted to predict a larger margin, but Eastern is one of just a handful of teams in the country that plays at a slower tempo than Michigan.
Bravo, ClearEyesFullHart. Bravo.