Early Look: Texas/Arizona State

Early Look: Texas/Arizona State

Submitted by Ace on March 19th, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Previously: Enter The Terrier (Wofford)

This is not a jinx, as KenPom predicts Michigan will make the round of 32, and the KenPom Curse defeats all other curses by analytical submission.

Despite their placement in a loaded Midwest region, Michigan actually lucked out with their early draw. Not only is Wofford considered the weakest 15-seed in the field, Texas/Arizona State is the 7/10 matchup least likely to produce an upset—Nate Silver gives U-M the best odds of any two-seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

Silver has Texas/ASU as a 50-50 tossup, while KenPom gives the Longhorns a 52% chance at victory. While the game is a coin-flip, the teams involved look remarkably different. Here's an overview of Michigan's potential round of 32 opponents. 

TEXAS (23-10, 11-7 Big 12)

KenPom Says

The Longhorns are an unpredictable squad, having gone up against several top opponents this season with very mixed results. The above dunk came in a 12-point home win over #8 Kansas; on the return trip, however, the Jayhawks won by 31. Texas upended #26 North Carolina by three points in Chapel Hill; three days later, #10 Michigan State pulled away for a 14-point victory in Austin.

The Longhorns swept the regular-season series against #31 Baylor, then lost to them by 17 in the conference tournament, their fifth loss in the last eight games. That final stretch included a six-point loss at #86 Texas Tech, the worst team they fell to all season.

The unpredictability can be chalked up to a very iffy offense. Texas ranks 79th in the country in efficiency despite boasting the sixth-best offensive rebound rate (39.4%) in the country. That's because they can't shoot a lick: they're ranked 244th in 2P%, 266th in 3P%, and 285th in FT%. Six Longhorns have attempted at least 45 three-pointers this year—none shoots better than 35.4%, and their highest-volume shooter—5'11" shooting guard Javan Felix—is at 33.3% on 171 attempts.

Texas isn't winning a game of HORSE against Michigan even if Nik Stauskas decides to shoot exclusively left-handed. The Longhorns have the #36 defense in the country and they're 15th in 2P% against. They give up a very high percentage of three-point looks, however, and they start three guards ranging in size from 5'11" to 6'2" — not ideal for contesting Michigan's shooters.

Matchup Concerns?

6'9", 285-pound center Cameron Ridley is 50th nationally in OR%, 195th in DR%, 48th in block rate, 97th in fouls drawn, and 22nd in FT rate, per KenPom. Despite his considerable girth, he manages to play 63% of the team's available minutes. Ridley will be difficult to keep off the boards, and if officials are calling things tight, a Max Bielfeldt first-half cameo isn't out of the question. That'd be a worst-case scenario, as the only way I see Texas winning this particular matchup is by overwhelming Michigan on the boards.

Outlook

While the rebounding is a concern, Texas's inability to shoot, lack of size on the perimeter, and the coaching mismatch of John Beilein against Rick Barnes lend me to believe this would be a game that very much favors Michigan.

[Hit THE JUMP for the outlook on Arizona State]