#33 Michigan (10-4, 0-1 B1G) vs
#96 Penn State (9-6, 1-1)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8:36 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -9 (KenPom)|
PBP: Cory Provus
Analyst: Shon Morris
Right: Michigan swept the series with PSU last year, including a 23-point blowout at Crisler. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
While there hasn't been any change to the starting lineup, Duncan Robinson's role continues to expand. Since getting only seven minutes against Marquette and 16 in each of the subsequent two games, Robinson has played 20+ minutes in seven of M's last nine games, including a season-high 36 in the Iowa game. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, meanwhile, played only eight minutes against the Hawkeyes after seeing the floor for at least 20 minutes in every game since the opener. John Beilein may very well continue to use Robinson as a super sub but he's playing the role of a starter again.
Beilein, by the way, has the chance to tally his 200th win at Michigan tonight. He'd be the second M coach to do so, following the legendary Johnny Orr (209).
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||10||Tony Carr||Fr.||6'3, 198||79||22||96||No|
|Fits FR PG profile: TO rate nearly as high as assists, good 3P%, bad 2P%.|
|G||33||Shep Garner||Jr.||6'2, 187||80||21||100||No|
|Secondary ballhandler and 3-point gunner. 35% on 106(!) 3PA.|
|G||23||Josh Reaves||So.||6'4, 210||44||19||98||Yes|
|Slasher/defender is 11th nationally in steal rate. Struggling with outside shot.|
|F||11||Lamar Stevens||Fr.||6'7, 218||65||23||108||Very|
|Only 48% on all two-pointers, but gets to line a lot, makes 88% of FTs.|
|C||24||Mike Watkins||R-Fr.||6'9, 246||58||21||106||Very|
|Excellent shot-blocker and rebounder. 55% from field, gets to line often.|
|F||0||Payton Banks||Jr.||6'6, 223||64||20||109||Not At All|
|Even more extreme gunner than Garner: 41% on 102 3PA in fewer minutes.|
|G||5||Terrence Samuel||Jr.||6'3, 208||45||15||102||Kinda|
|High FT rate is salvaging efficiency; only 43.1 eFG%.|
|C||44||Julian Moore||Jr.||6'10, 235||35||15||75||Very|
|Shooting 40% from field with a 30% TO rate. Woof.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Penn State has undergone a stylistic transformation in Pat Chambers's sixth season. After never averaging more than 67 possessions per game in his first five years, PSU is 28th nationally at 74.1 possessions. The increased tempo hasn't done much to change their results, however. PSU is 9-6 and ranks 96th on KenPom; a solid defense is carrying another subpar Nittany Lions offense.
Junior two-guard Shep Garner is PSU's primary offensive threat. He's a volume shooter and one of their main ballhanders, especially in the pick-and-roll. Garner is often tasked with taking the tougher variety of shots and his efficiency reflects that: he's shooting 44% on twos and 35% on threes. While he's a willing passer out of the high screen he's not a great one; his assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.4:1.
Freshman point guard Tony Carr is a freshman point guard: he leads the team in assists (59) and turnovers (37) and is shooting better from three-point range (37%) than two-point (36%) while taking twice as many of the latter. Carr isn't as ineffective a slasher as that shooting mark indicates because of his frequent trips to the line, where he shoots 86%.
The third starting guard, sophomore Josh Reaves, eased his way back into the lineup after missing the first five games with an injury and now appears fully back; he's surpassed 30 minutes in three of their last four games. He's a defensive specialist who's 11th nationally in steal rate; he has 25 in only ten games with three outings of four or more. That aggressiveness can get him into foul trouble; he's had three or four fouls in each of the last five. He's not a big threat on offense, posting career marks of 47% on twos and 14%(!) on 59 three-point attempts.
Power forward Lamar Stevens is another player who's reliant on drawing fouls to create much of his offense. While he's shooting 48% from the field on almost entirely two-point attempts, his free throw rate is a shade under 50, and he makes 88% of his free throws. He blocks the occasional shot but doesn't rebound like a big man, leaving that to...
Redshirt freshman center Mike Watkins, who's nationally ranked in both rebounding categories and tenth nationally in block rate. He's also a 55% finisher. There's a huge dropoff from Watkins to his backup, Julian Moore, who doesn't do the big man stuff nearly as well and is in the midst of a disastrous offensive season; Moore's turnover rate (30%) is approaching his field goal percentage (40%). While Watkins hasn't been in significant foul trouble save for two of PSU's losses (Duke and Northwestern), Moe Wagner is one of the better and more versatile offensive big men he's faced.
PSU's top bench player is three-point specialist Payton Banks, who started ten games before Reaves worked his way back. Banks fits the Just A Shooter™ profile; he's made 42-of-102 three-point attempts so far this season.
Penn State is only 1-4 against KenPom top-100 competition this season with that lone win coming at #90 St. John's. They weren't partiularly close againts #6 Duke, #18 Cincinnati, #56 Pitt, or #43 Northwestern. Other than St. John's, which hardly qualifies, PSU lacks a quality win; their next-best win came at #128 George Washington.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a 13-point win at Rutgers, so they've got that going for them.
Small sample size caveats apply.
PSU's offense is slightly above average in the turnover department and well below average in the other three factors. If not for the nation's 12th-best shooting mark from the free-throw line (77.6%), they'd be even farther down the board in adjusted offensive efficiency, in which they only rank 174th.
The defense, at 59th in adjusted efficiency, is a mirror image of the offense, ranking between 61st and 75th in three of the four factors with a significant weakness in the fourth: rebounding. They're especially stingy in the paint, boasting the nation's #36 block rate and #33 two-point defense.
Unleash DJ. PSU's main defensive weakness is allowing second chances. Wilson is coming off the best game of his career; in addition to scoring 28 points, he grabbed six offensive boards against Iowa. Michigan won't want to send too many players to the boards given PSU's preference to get out in transition; that was also the case with the Hawkeyes and Wilson thrived all the same.
Pin early fouls on Watkins. Big man Mike Watkins has been a bright spot for PSU, especially on defense; his backup, Julian Moore, has very much not been that. Michigan should be running much of the offense through Moe Wagner regardless. Taking some opportunities to go at Watkins in the post could pay huge dividends; PSU hasn't found much success on the rare occasions he's been saddled with foul trouble.
Stick with Banks. Peyton Banks is a dead-eye gunner off the bench who's almost entirely reliant on getting spot-up looks; according to hoop-math, 40 of his 42 three-point makes this season have been assisted. If Shep Garner beats a guard off a high screen, someone besides Banks's guy needs to be the one to rotate and help if possible. If M can limit Banks, PSU doesn't have much else in the way of outside shooting.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 9.
As long at the Wolverines take care of the ball, their shooting advantage should give them a comfortable edge in this one.