Michigan (14-14, 7-9 B1G) at
Northwestern (14-5, 5-11)
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Northwestern -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Dave Revsine
Analyst: Jim Jackson
Right: Rahk had nine points on seven shots in the first matchup. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
Derrick Walton is still expected to sit out, though he did at least travel to Maryland on Saturday.
THE LAST TIME
Thanks to a strong all-around performance by Caris LeVert and a missed layup by Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh on the game's final possession, Michigan escaped with a 56-54 win at Crisler back in mid-January. A solid outing from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman covered for the absence of a sick Spike Albrecht. The efforts of those two and Derrick Walton—who hit some timely threes—were just enough to overcome a 22-point game from Wildcats center Alex Olah.
On that fateful final play, LeVert came up limping. We'd soon learn he was out for the rest of the season. Michigan, 4-2 in the conference after the win, has gone 3-7 since.
This is close to a must-win for Michigan if they want to get into the NIT. While a losing record no longer automatically disqualifies a team from making the NIT, no such team has been selected; Michigan would need to beat Rutgers and win the 8/9 game in the Big Ten Tournament just to get back to .500. (I don't believe the NIT counts the victory over Hillsdale, a D-II team.) That wouldn't necessarily guarantee Michigan gets in—they'd probably have to pull a huge upset over Wisconsin in the next round to lock down a spot.
Needless to say, the path to the NIT is a whole lot easier if Michigan wins the remaining two regular season games. At that point, they'd probably only need to win one game in the conference tournament to feel good about their postseason standing.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||30||Bryant McIntosh||Fr.||6'3, 177||85||24||No|
|Decent scorer, high assist rate. Not remarkably efficient, but can create.|
|G||14||Tre Demps||Jr.||6'3, 198||82||24||Not really|
|Takes a ton of shots but isn't a great shooter: 48/33/65 2P/3P/FT%.|
|G/F||20||Scottie Lindsey||Fr.||6'5, 175||41||15||No|
|Low usage, mostly out there for defense. Struggling with shot.|
|F||34||Sanjay Lumpkin||So.||6'6, 220||85||10||Not Really|
|Minuscule usage, efficiency has plummeted in B1G play. Meh rebounder.|
|C||22||Alex Olah||Jr.||7'0, 270||72||25||Yes|
|Good rebounder, shot-blocker. Not a great finisher, but has range.|
|F||4||Vic Law||Fr.||6'7, 185||53||20||Not really|
|Good defender, rebounder whose offensive game is still developing.|
|G||23||JerShon Cobb||Sr.||6'5, 208||36||15||No|
|Spot-up shooter (36% 3P) missed last six games due to injury. Questionable.|
|F||32||Nathan Taphorn||So.||6'7, 215||20||18||No|
|Hitting 59% of twos and 50% of threes in limited opportunities.|
Northwestern's loss to Michigan was their fourth defeat in what would become a ten-game losing streak—they didn't win a game between December 30th and February 15th. The Wildcats then ripped off four straight wins, beating Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State (60-39!), and Indiana; three of those came at home. Most recently, they got crushed at Illinois.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]