This is an overly optimistic prediction in my opinion. The Barn is an extremely difficult place to play, even when Minnesota sucks. They are MUCH bigger than us, which worries me. Plus I just don't know if a young team can get off the mat after what happened to them. Fingers crossed, but I see NCAA dreams dying today.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Minnesota|
4:30 PM EST (3:30 Local)
February 26th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan +5.5.|
This is The Most Important Game of the Year
Until the Next Game. They're all equally important now. Unable to get the wins in excruciatingly close games against Illinois and Wisconsin, the Wolverines must sweep their final two regular-season games for a realistic shot at an at-large bid. A loss in either of the final two regular season games likely means no NCAA Tournament, barring an epic run through the Big Ten Tournament.
Fortunately for the Wolverines, the two games are winnable - though that doesn't mean they're sure things. The Wolverines have already beaten Michigan State in the Breslin Center, and the Gophers are very vulnerable right now. How vulnerable? Since Al Nolen went out of the Gophers' lineup (in the first game against Michigan), they're without a true point guard, and only have wins against Northwestern and at Iowa.
Minnesota has gone to a 4-big lineup, though it hasn't been all that successful, seeing losses to Purdue, Ohio State, and Illinois on the obvious end of the spectrum, but also road losses to Indiana and Penn State, and allowing Michigan State to control the final 5 minutes of the game in The Barn for a comeback Spartan win.
With a few games under each team's belt, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Minnesota: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Minnesota Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Minn Def eFG%||57||73||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Minn eFG%||167||108||G|
|Mich TO% v. Minn Def TO%||22||282||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Minn TO%||244||217||G|
|Mich OReb% v. Minn DReb%||321||138||GG|
|Mich DReb% v. Minn OReb%||49||13||G|
|Mich FTR v. Minn Opp FTR||340||28||GGGG|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Minn FTR||40||31||-|
|Mich AdjO v. Minn AdjD||64||53||G|
|Mich AdjD v. Minn AdjO||54||48||-|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
Minnesota's numbers are mostly OK, but keep in mind that these include the entire time that Al Nolen was in the lineup - they're trending downward since he broke his foot. That's most evident in Turnover Rate, where the Gophers are bad an getting worse offensively. The Wolverines haven't been a machine forcing opponents into mistakes, but they have a chance to make a big dent there.
On the other end of the spectrum, playing with 4 bigs has been a huge benefit in the rebounding game. The Wolverines were killed on the defensive glass in the first half against Wisconsin, and Minnesota is an even better rebounding team. Michigan will have to pound the glass and eliminate second-chance opportunities for the Gopher bigs.
Michigan is also going to have trouble getting to the line (no surprise there) against a tall Minnesota lineup. Forcing Minnesota to extend their defense all the way out the arc is going to be important, both for getting offense on the perimeter and opening lanes for cutting. I think - even though it will be a defensive liability - Michigan might go with more Smotrycz at the 5, in order to have serious shooting threats at all positions.
Dylan previews on UMHoops.
The Wisconsin loss was a gut-punch of epic proportions, but this Wolverine team is as hungry as can be after that. Minnesota is reeling, and if Michigan wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they need to prove it by taking advantage of the Gophers' poor form of late. It's going to be a shooting type of night with Minnesota short on guards, and I think Michigan shoots more than 25 3-pointers, making about 40%. Darius Morris gets a points-assists double-double, and Michigan gets the 69-62 victory in The Barn.
Point - Counterpoint
Minnesota may be bigger but we are exponentially faster. I think JB gets his team to respond to the crushing loss by putting it in the rear view mirror with yet another conference road win. IMO this team has more heart, pride and talent than you're giving them credit for.
Michigan wins. Big Dance dreams remain alive for another game.....
It has a rep as a tough place to play, but we've won there two years in a row.
Smotrycz has been awful lately. (His performance in his first shift vs Wisconsin was so bad he got replaced by Horford the next time Morgan came out.) Sacrificing Morgan's 5 rebounds in exchange for another 2 for 9 performance from Smotrycz would be a disaster, even if the pick & roll doesn't get going against 4 bigs.
I thought Smotrycz played pretty well against Wisc - in fact, he was named the sixth man of the game by the BTN. Horford coming in for Morgan was not necessarily a sign that Beilein lost confidence in Smotrycz - he's more of a 4 than a 5 to begin with.
I was at the Wisconsin game so I don't know what BTN said, and the scoreboard wasn't tracking stats the first half, but I remember that he missed 2 FTs and then Horford came in instead the next time.
He did end up 2 for 2 from the field for that game, but that was more surprising than anything else considering he was 0 for 2 vs Iowa and 2 for 9 with 2 turnovers vs Illinois. He's had a bad February in general if you look at the stats. Hopefully that's just youth, though.
At what point are we no longer young? After bouncing back from losing 6 in a row? Or hearing how it was impossible to win @ Sparty? This team has grown up, and they just need to realize it's all there for the taking. 71-60 Mich.
The guys have great heart, but they're definitely still young. There was an 8+ minute period over the end of the 1st half and beginning of the 2nd half where we only made 1 FG. The fact that a long stretch like this happens in almost every game shows that we're still making some the types of decisions that show we're young.
That being said, they also show play beyond their years like when Novak stepped in on that late pass to the post, avoided being fouled, and passed it to Morris, who then waited to get fouled to start the act of shooting and completed the 3-point play! I screamed at my TV out of joy about the intelligence of the whole thing. This type of play is starting to show itself more and more. I think we're a youngish team with a lot of chemistry and a TON of heart.
My biggest concern in this game is Minnesota's 2-3 zone. From what I've seen of Minnesota this year (and that does not include the earlier game against Michigan), they play 2-3 zone almost all the time. That's what they did against MSU earlier this week. Michigan has not seen a lot of 2-3 zone this year, and, when they have faced it, they have had trouble making the zone move and creating gaps.
The screen and roll game, which has been so important to their offense, will not be effective against a 2-3 zone. They are going to have to do some different things on offense, and they are going to have to shoot very well from 3. In fact, I don't understand why teams have not thrown more zone at Michigan. I'm concerned that the novelty of this defensive look, coupled with Michigan's weaknesses on offense, is going to create real problems for Michigan.
Most of all, Michigan is going to have to get the ball into the middle of the zone, probably with Morgan flashing to the free throw line. If Morris gets him the ball on time in this situation, there will be cutters open on the baseline and Michigan will get lay-ups. If they can't get the ball into the middle of the zone, they are going to be stuck passing around the perimeter and shooting 3s. If that happens, I'm not optimistic.
If Michigan can do some new and different things offensively, if it can overcome its rebounding weaknesses and Minnesota's size and hold their own on the glass, it will be a really encouraging sign of the team's growth, development, and potential, both in post-season play this year and for next year.
Can't really get all too much closer than that.
I should get some stock advice...
Pretty impressive prediction!
Michigan also shot 28 triples and made 43%
And that came on the heels of Wisconsin, when Tim picked a 54-51 loss and it was 53-52. The guy's on fire. (Please pick Michigan next week...)
Not only did Tim have a ridiculously spot-on final score prediction, but he was also downright prophetic overall. D-Mo was close to a double-double (17 and 7), and Michigan shot over 25 treys (27) and made close to 40% (44%) of them.
Well done, sir!
EDIT: I see the total 3s was changed to 28 now.
Take it for what it is but I was watching the BTN's one-on-one feature with Darius Morris and he said that "We'll all be back next year". I thought this was interesting because people had been saying he was thinking about entering the draft.
for mayor of Vegas.
is up with the predictions????
tonight, off by one point each for both teams. and wednesday night, off by one point each for both teams (predicted 54-51, actual 53-52).
it's actually kinda freaking me out now.
I'd just like to take a moment to point out how dead on that prediction was at just about every level. Well done there.
We have reason to believe that you are employing a witch on your staff. We'd like to offer our services to you post-haste.
Salem, MA City Council.