||Michigan v. Iowa
||Iowa City, IA
||3:30 PM CST
4:30 Real Life Time
February 19th, 2011
||BTN (Eric Collins, Tim Doyle)
This is This Most Important Game of the Year Until The Next Game. The contest of Iowa isn't necessarily a "must-win," but it's definitely a "can't-lose," and since there are only two options, well, I guess it's a must-win if Michigan wants to keep the tournament dream alive.
As Brian said on WTKA Thursday, the outcome of the Illinois game doesn't have a huge negative effect on the tournament chances, except it's one hell of a "lack of positive" effect, and is like missing a late goal trailing in a hockey game: it's the point where it starts feeling like the thing is really over. Michigan is now in serious win of an RPI top-50 win, and with four game left, there are only three options: 1) Beat Wisconsin. 2) Beat Minnesota and hope they end up in the top-50. 3) Meat Michigan State and hope the Spartans end up in the top-50. As much as it hurts to cheer for Sparty in any game ever, #3 would be a huge benefit, because it would give Michigan two wins over a top-50 squad, including one on the road.
Anyway, back to the game at hand: Iowa. Michigan must have this game in order to stay alive for the NCAA tournament, unless they play to sweep their final three regular season games (which, I hope they plan to win this one AND sweep the final three). Last time around, Melsahn Basabe had a coming-out party, reaching a season-high point total (25), while pulling down 8 rebounds and notching a pair of blocks. not to be outdone, Darius Morris recorded a triple-double, and the Wolverines got the last laugh with a comfortable win in Crisler Arena.
Since then, Michigan has shown that they've snapped out of their midseason malaise, but Iowa has proven that they're no pushover (who knows how they'll react after officially losing the chance to go .500 by losing to Northwestern on Thursday). There are no easy wins in the Big Ten, especially on the road. Time to earn it.
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. Iowa: National Ranks
|Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG%
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO
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.
The Wolverines dominate the tempo-free stats, and Iowa's only big advantages are in rebounding Michigan misses and not sending John Beilein's squad to the free throw line. To sum it all up, Iowa has a very slight advantage on Michigan's end of the court, and Michigan has a pretty hefty advantage when they're playing D.
So I spent a lot of the Illinois preview spilling words on how Michigan had turned into a pretty good offensive team during Big Ten play, and they managed to mae me eat my words by missing EVERYTHING on Wednesday night. A lot of that came from playing the #1 eFG% defense in the Big Ten, but even the open shots just weren't falling that night.
If Stu Douglass (54.7 eFG% on the year, 22.7 against Illinois), Zack Novak (55.2 this year, 42.9 Wednesday), and Darius Morris (52.5 season, 33.3 Wednesday) can snap out of their shooting funk, Michigan should be able to roll on the road. If Jordan Morgan can keep up his excellent form of late, that's icing on the cake.
Dylan previews the Hawkeyes on UMHoops. Brian's postgame from last time around, and the UMHoops version of same.
I'm willing - based on 26 other games of evidence - to believe that the shooting performance was just a really bad night, and it won't be repeated against a much worse defensive team than the Illini. Keeping Melsahn Basabe from repeating his performance from Crisler Arena will be the bigger key to this game. Ken Pomeroy likes the Hawkeyes this afternoon, but I think Michigan emerges from Carver-Hawkeye with the 70-61 victory.