||Michigan (26-8, 15-3 B1G) vs.
Texas (24-10, 11-7 B12)
||5:15 pm Eastern, Saturday
||Michigan -4 (KenPom)
YOU PICKED THE WRONG CANADIAN, RICK BARNES. THE WRONG, WRONG CANADIAN.
Win or go home.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|Super quick PG shoots 40% from 2, does not take 3s. Main strength is getting to line.
|Volume jump shooter hits 38%/34%. Takes ton of iso two point jumpers.
|Lots of TOs, miserable FT% for guard, shoots 45% from two.
|Stretch-ish 4 is OREB guy and decent 3 threat. Low min despite high ORTG.
|Post widebody is rebound machine, draws tons of fouls.
|Typical post backup, but does have range to 3. Efficient, but low usage.
|Emerged into 20 min/G backup lately. Decent shooter, no standout skill yet.
|Generic large man.
Texas is an oddity in the college basketball world, an old-school, throwback two-post outfit that usually has two 6'8+ guys on the court at all times. NCAA teams have increasingly moved away from this paradigm in favor of a smaller, more offensively efficient one, and Texas's stats reflect their interior orientation. They're rebounding monsters who can't shoot.
As far as individual players go, the guy who makes things go is center Cameron Ridley, a Traylor-like post who has his own gravitational pull.
Ridley crushes the boards at both ends and has a top 25 free throw rate. Unfortunately, he's mediocre at best once there (62%) and is only decent from the floor at 55%. He does take care of the ball well for a big guy.
Texas splits its minutes at the four about down the middle between Jonathan Holmes and Connor Lammert. They're similar players statistically, both monsters on the defensive boards and very good on the offensive boards. Both guys have three point range (34% for both) that they don't use very much and shoot decently from two. They're Texas's most effective players at shooting, full stop.
When a post isn't taking a shot it's usually not good news for the Texas offense. Their two high-usage guards are not particularly efficient. Point guard Isaiah Taylor is a flash in the lane but has limited ability to finish once there. He's shooting just 40% on his 327(!) two point attempts, and he has only 19 three point attempts on the year. When he is on, though, he is scary:
He assists, of course, but his A:TO ratio is mediocre at best. Taylor's best asset is his ability to get to the line. That asset is one usually nerfed by Michigan's passivity on defense, but the tradeoff is that Taylor might be getting way better shots than he usually does.
Meanwhile, to envision Felix Javan, strip eight inches off of Zak Irvin and make him shoot 38%/34%. Oh and give him a bunch more assists. But basically short bricklayer Irvin. Only 14% of his shots are at the rim and most of his twos are not assisted; he dribbles himself into two point jumpers. He is Texas's primary three point threat. At 34%, yes.
The third guard, Demarcus Holland, is a really bad offensive player who must be on the floor solely to D up. He shoots 57/45/29 and turns the ball over a ton.
Texas opened the tournament with a dramatic buzzer-beater win over Arizona State in a game that was shockingly efficient for the Horns, which put up a Michigan-like 1.24 PPP thanks to low turnovers and efficient two point shooting. That Holland guy I just trashed had 14 points on 7 shot equivalents, IE the maximum you can acquire without taking a three. He didn't try a three.
Before that game Texas was on a hell of a skid, 3-5 in their last eight with one of the wins over basketball nonentity TCU, and with all but one loss by 9 points. They went 11-7 in a very deep and tough Big 12, though, and boast wins against Iowa State, Baylor (twice), Kansas, and Oklahoma State.
Texas didn't have a lot of high quality opponents in the nonconference slate. They beat autobids Mercer and Stephen F Austin early, lost to BYU on a neutral floor, and go run by MSU at home. Their main selling point a road win against mercurial North Carolina in an 80 possession game.
Texas shoots miserably from everywhere and tries to make up for it by crushing the offensive boards. They also get to the line a fair bit, though they're only 67% there. Texas is relatively uptempo and not particularly efficient when they go uptempo, so that's a push with Michigan's problematic transition D.
Keep it tight and slow. Texas tries to get out in transition because their half court offense is poor. This doesn't go that much better (Texas transtion eFG%: 52%; Michigan: 64%; Michigan halfcourt eFG%: 53%), but the increase in their efficiency is approximately as large as Michigan's increase in efficiency. If Michigan can make this into a shooting contest, the only thing that will save Texas is a blizzard of offensive rebounds.
When in doubt, help. Texas's best three point shooter is mediocre and the rest of the team is hesitant to even launch one. The Horns are in the 300s at taking threes and 251st at hitting them. Texas's bigs have miniscule assist rates. Double the post every time.
Meanwhile, when someone's driving, perimeter players should feel free to sag off most Texas players in an effort to get the driver to pull up and kick it back out or take a floater. Allowing the driver to engage the big is bad news, as a missed shot that draws Morgan or Horford over looks to be as good as an assist against the burly Longhorns.
This may be a situation where a zone can help you out. Tight turnaround, lots of drivers without much shooting, team that couldn't really prep much for you with a 7/10 game looming, coach regarded as a bit of a lightweight… this could be a situation where the 1-3-1 can make a major impact. The threat of the offensive rebound veritably looms, but it's a curveball you can test out some to see if it works. The rarely seen 2-3 also seems like an option if Michigan can't stay in front of Texas's waterbug guards.
Crash the boards a bit yourself. Texas is mediocre at defensive rebounding because their bigs try to block everything. While there's not much hope Michigan can hold Texas off the offensive boards, they can mitigate some of that possession advantage by having Morgan/Horford mitigate that.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 4.