Hoops Preview: Furman Comment Count

Ace December 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 PM


WHAT #27 Michigan (9-3) vs
#162 Furman (7-5)
WHERE Crisler Center
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 7 pm ET, Thursday
LINE Michigan -15 (KenPom)
PBP: Jeff Levering
Analyst: Stephen Bardo

Right: Even by plush-mascot-costume standards, that is not a very intimidiating knight. At the very least, someone should get this guy a shield.


There's not too much to update from Michigan's end after consecutive blowouts of teams ranked in the 300s on KenPom. John Beilein clarified after the Maryland Eastern Shore game that Duncan Robinson started over Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman due to a clerical error, one I assume he'd have pushed harder to correct against a viable opponent. (MAAR checked in within 90 seconds.)

This is Michigan's final non-conference game before a lengthier-than-usual holiday break; after tonight, the Wolverines don't play again until traveling to Iowa on New Year's Day. While Michigan is still a 15-point favorite, Furman is a significant step up in competition from the last two games.


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.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 1 John Davis III Jr. 5'11, 165 71 16 99 No
Shooting 40% from three. Despite size, not a point guard: 27 assists to 18 turnovers.
G 12 Devin Sibley Jr. 6'2, 175 83 26 102 Not At All
Efficient scorer with high volume, 49% on twos, 48% on threes.
G 35 Daniel Fowler Jr. 6'4, 195 80 22 122 No
Excellent passer—58 assists, 17 turnovers—and effective inside-outside scorer.
F 3 Geoff Beans Jr. 6'7, 210 54 17 105 No
Just A Shooter™ is 28/65 on threes, 8/15 on twos. Also: named Geoff Beans.
F 21 Kris Acox Sr. 6'6, 215 68 23 104 Very
Shoots 53% from field on all two-point attempts, solid rebounder, not a rim protector.
F 32 Matt Rafferty So. 6'8, 215 42 19 87 Yes
Good shot-blocker and rebounder, offense plagued by turnovers this year.
G 5 Andrew Brown So. 6'4, 190 40 15 103 No
The rare turnover-prone Just A Shooter™. 17/35 on threes, 12 turnovers.
G 23 Jordan Lyons Fr. 5'11, 170 36 15 107 No
Another Just A Shooter™. 11/31 on threes.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]


Furman only does one thing well offensively but it's the most important thing: shoot. Four starters are shooting better than 37% from three-point range and two of their top three bench players are dedicated outside gunners.

Guard Devin Sibley is their top scorer. He's equally liable to take a three, of which he makes 48%, or go to the basket, where he's a decent finisher and excellent at drawing fouls. Daniel Fowler, an excellent passer, is the lead guard and another effective scorer both inside and outside the arc. Those two are flanked by a pair of 40%-plus three-point shooters in John Davis III and Geoff Beans; Beans just hoists threes, while Davis is more likely to take it off the dribble—and turn it over.

Nominal big man Krix Acox rounds out the starting lineup; he's not so big at 6'6", 215 pounds, and while he rebounds well he only has three blocks on the season. You can expect Michigan to attack Acox, Beans, and 6'8, 215-pound backup big Matt Rafferty with Moe Wagner and DJ Wilson; Rafferty is the only rim protector of the three and he's been their worst offensive player in the rotation because of turnovers.

Two Just A Shooter™ types fill out the eight-man rotation. Andrew Brown is oddly turnover-prone for such a player; he's 17-for-35 on threes and has more turnovers (12) than two-point attempts (9). Jordan Lyons is 11-for-31 on threes and 0-for-3 on twos against Division I competition. (Furman has two wins over lower divison teams that seriously skew some of their stats; KenPom excises those games, thankfully.)


Michigan is the highest-ranked opponent Furman has faced by some distance; the best team they've played so far is #54 Georgia, who the Paladins lost to by six on the road. Their best win came by ten at #154 UAB. They have two losses to teams ranked in the 300s: Presbyterian and South Carolina State.


Four Factors explanation

Furman does a great job of keeping opponents off the offensive glass and they force an above-average number of turnovers, but they still look pretty vulnerable. Opponents make 49% of their twos and get to the line with great frequency, the Paladins are one of the worst shot-blocking teams in the country, and their stingy three-point defense looks like an early-season fluke—they're 48th in 3P% against but 285th in 3PA/FGA.

The Paladins offense is predicated on the outside shot; 44% of their shots come from beyond the arc. They're merely average at finishing inside the arc and below-average at both drawing fouls and making free throws. Meanwhile, they turn the ball over too much and don't hit the boards. That's how a team ranked in the top 70 in eFG% can have the nation's #207 adjusted offensive efficiency.


Work inside-out. While Michigan has mostly been bombing inferior teams into oblivion from beyond the arc lately, they've been quite efficient when going inside for buckets, and Furman looks vulnerable on the interior. The Paladins have one rotation player taller than 6'7" and none heavier than 215 pounds. Wagner and Wilson will get theirs, and with little in the way of opposing rim protection Mark Donnal should also fare well.

Stay in attack mode. Post-ups should be beneficial; so should simple drives to the bucket. Again, Furman lacks an imposing interior presence; this is a chance for Zak Irvin and MAAR (I'd add Walton but I've mostly given up hope there) to get into a rhythm off the dribble without having to worry too much about what they'll encounter at the rim—Furman is much more likely to send them to the line than reject the shot.

Stick to shooters. Given everything above, pretty self-explanatory. Michigan should close out hard; funneling these guards to the basket isn't the worst thing in the world given M's size advantage. The only way the Wolverines realistically lose this game is if they're significantly outshot from long range.


Michigan by 15.

I don't think Michigan gets significantly outshot from long range.


UMHoops preview.


True Blue 9

December 22nd, 2016 at 5:02 PM ^

I'll be interested to see what the crowd is like for the game tonight. I'm in town from Atlanta for the holidays and I'm venturing over to the game. When I started looking at tickets on Monday, there were over 700 tickets available on StubHub. It's down to less than 200 tickets on there now. Looking forward to cheering on the Maize and Blue!