|WHAT||#6 Michigan (18-1) vs
|LINE||Michigan –3 (Kenpom)|
The long and beautiful Summer of Basketball has hit a wintry, icy bump in the road. (This metaphor brought to you by The Weather™.) Michigan's 18-1 but suddenly wondering if they're, you know, really 18-1 or just kind of 18-1 after consecutive dismal offensive performances. One of those was a win because Michigan's defense brings its Ben Wallace afro every game, but when you're relying on a buzzer-beater to take out Minnesota at home you get simultaneously relieved and worried.
Michigan now travels to one of the most ominous arenas in sports, the Any Big Ten Road Game Center. In this particular ABTRGC the Indiana Hoosiers await. Said Hoosiers are flailing, having lost five straight. This will be an opportunity to get right, or another face-clencher.
THE LINEUP CARD
Click for big.
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.
unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||13||Rob Phinisee||Fr.||6'1, 182||80*||17||104||No|
|Composite #136 FR missed first game w/ injury. Low usage NJAS hitting 42/41 with A rate (19.7) near identical to TO rate (19.4). Going to get huge minutes w/ Green out.|
|G||2||Aljami Durham||So.||6'4, 181||59||16||106||No|
|Another NJAS hitting 52/40. Another 19 TO rate as well.|
|G||44||Romeo Langford||Fr.||6'6, 215||82||27||109||Yes|
|#7 composite FR has cooled off from two but is still at 60% while creating almost all those shots. Has added a few % from three... and is now at 22%. Giant FT rate.|
|F||11||Justin Smith||So.||6'7 227||64||20||97||Yes|
|Is Brent Petway in disguise.|
|C||24||Juwan Morgan||Sr.||6'7, 232||75||25||120||No|
|Has lost 8 percentage points on twos since last matchup, still at 67%, but B10 has been much tougher. Hitting 56% on big usage. ORTG in league play barely over 100.|
|C||21||Evan Fitzner||Sr.||6'10, 225||32||15||108||No|
|St. Mary's grad transfer can't find minutes because he's a shooter who's 3/18 from floor in B10 play.|
|C||5||Clifton Moore||So.||6'10 230||7||20||100||Yes|
|7/11 from the floor this season. O/U on minutes is 5.|
|G||0||Damezi Anderson||Fr.||6'7, 215||24||14||91||Meh|
|Composite #125 FR was briefly of interest to M. Just A Shooter so far; 3 shots at rim on season and one FT.|
|F||35||Zach McRoberts||Sr.||6'6 210||33||6||84||Yes|
|6% usage! 28% TO rate despite that! Now in the starting lineup! Playing 20 MPG over last 6!|
[hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
The first time these teams met, Indiana was perfect in league play and maybe on track for a protected seed after 12 wins in 14 tries, including Ws over Marquette and Louisville.
Fast forward three weeks and Indiana still has 12 wins. They've lost five in a row, with only the most recent L against Northwestern in single digits. This is a veritable free-fall. Injuries and suspensions have had something to do with that: Rob Phinisee missed the first Michigan game, De'Ron Davis has been extremely limited, and Devonte Green just got indefinitely suspended. Both Davis and Green are definitely out tonight.
This has forced Indiana to do a thing unprecedented in the history of these previews: start someone with 6% usage. Zach McRoberts is still listed as a bench player above because we go by minutes, not who steps on the court first, but even still... I mean, dang. IU's started McRoberts their last two games; he had 4 points in 29 minutes against Purdue and 0 in 19 against Northwestern. Both of these outings upped his average usage.
The other major change from the previous, er, preview is subbing out Green for Phinisee. Phinisee is a more efficient player but is about 5 points short of Green's usage. He's got a 20 assist rate and a 19 TO rate; he's shooting 42/41; he's not getting to the line. Swapping him for Green is a wash, unless it's actually Green with a slight edge:
Where Green's absence hurts IU is in the lack of Green/Phinisee lineups, which look pretty good on Hoop Lens. When one of the two PGs is gone even more usage gets heaped on the two stars, and even stars get tired.
Without Davis and Green IU's bench gets super short. McRoberts is the only guy playing much; in the last game Evan Fitzner got six minutes, Damezi Anderson three, Jake Forrester and Clifton Moore two each.
As with Northwestern, the personnel breakdown from the original preview is close enough to on-point that I won't replicate it here. In summary, Indiana has their two star players dominate the ball, a leapy guy who can't play with the ball in his hands at the four, and guards who are good when given a catch and shoot opportunity and not so good at everything else.
Adjustments three weeks later:
- The resumption of Big Ten play has been a bit of a reality check for Juwan Morgan. Morgan is still producing on a consistent basis but his shooting has gone from absurd to very good. He's still hitting 67% from the floor, but that's down from 74%. In eight conference games he's hitting 56%. That's still great for a 6'7" center who creates almost all his own shots. It's no longer superhuman. Morgan has shed another point or two from his FT% and is now at 59% on the season.
- Unlike Morgan, Romeo Langford's efficiency has held steady against the increased level of competition. This is still in the "meh" zone because he's shooting 27% from three in Big Ten play, an improvement from 22% against the whole schedule.
- I'm upset with myself that my entire section on Justin Smith wasn't "is Brent Petway."
And while we're at it here's a Jordan Sperber video on the last M-IU matchup:
You can feel some of the burden on Morgan come through in that video where his defense fails in part because he doesn't have the energy to do the things Clifton Moore is doing.
Indiana's offense (51st) and defense (34th) have both lost about ten spots on Kenpom since the last meeting but retain their broad outlines. The offense's two-point shooting is great; they take relatively few threes and are slightly below average at hitting them; they get to the line a lot and suck once there.
The defense tries to keep people in front of them in a manner similar to Michigan: relatively few FTs allowed, good to decent shooting D. They're merely average at shot volume stats.
The concern for the Hoosiers is what happens when you click the "conference only" checkbox: IU is 10th on offense and 9th on defense. Three point luck may be buoying that D, as well. They're third in the league, ceding only 31%, but they're 10th in two point D and allow a large number of threes to go up. Meanwhile their offensive twos, the strength they must rely on, are just fourth at the league at 51.5%.
Make Morgan work for it again. Morgan had 25 points but on 25 shot equivalents and his enormous 56% usage took a toll on the defensive end despite playing just 28 minutes due to some foul trouble. This was the game where Davis had four fouls in three minutes and Teske was limited to 25 minutes with some trouble of his own. Brandon Johns had the best game of his career to date, which included an impressive block on Morgan.
Teske's been on a rampage on both ends of the court over the last couple weeks and will seek to establish his bonafides as the best C in the league by making Morgan inefficient for a second time. I wouldn't expect Michigan to double. Northwestern was able to get the ball out of Morgan's hands by doing so but was fortunate that Indiana went 4 of 21 on largely good looks from three.
Either enjoy the luxury of a team that doesn't want to switch or attack some dang switches. Indiana did not switch, so Michigan ran a bunch of offense and got their third-string C 8 points on 5 shots. Teams that have switched put the iso-and-post-up averse Michigan offense in an uncomfortable spot, leading to a lot of telegraphed step-back jumpers. The jumpers are so telegraphed that many are heavily contested despite being step-backs.
If Indiana changes its approach and Morgan's on Simpson and a guard is checking Teske in the post, please do something with that. Attack the basket, please. Even if you have to pass the ball if you draw help now IU is rotating and Iggy and Matthews can attack in their wheelhouse.
Contain Langford. Langford had 17 points on 14 shot equivalents and just one TO; he hit one of two threes to do so and went 6/6 from the line. His efficiency was built on a couple of switching screwups in the second half and attacking in semi-transition. Matthews did his usual work when in one-on-one coverage. It would be nice to see that reflected in Langford's ORTG.
Don't forget to score in the last five minutes. A suggestion.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 3.