#15 Michigan (4-0) at
#57 South Carolina (4-0)
Colonial Life Arena
Columbia, South Carolina
|WHEN||5 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Kevin Fitzgerald
Analyst: Brooke Weisbrod
Right: South Carolina coach and well-adjusted human Frank Martin. [AP photo; original caption is amazing]
This section is blissfully lacking in major items to note right now. DJ Wilson is now the starting four and given the early returns that's not changing for the foreseeable future. Duncan Robinson is now an off-the-bench gunner. Moe Wagner and Mark Donnal have settled into an even split at center with Jon Teske getting spot minutes. Xavier Simpson and Ibi Watson are still settling into the rotation. That about covers it.
Michigan first true road game comes at South Carolina, a top-60 team on KenPom headed by former Kansas State coach Frank Martin, who should be good for a sideline freakout or three.
The Gamecocks are led by 6'5" senior wing Sindarius Thornwell, who's posting 21 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Thornwell is using a whopping 30% of South Carolina's possessions when he's on the floor and scoring with probably unsustainable efficiency: the career 32% three-point shooter is 10-for-21 from beyond the arc through four games. He's also putting up rebounding and block rates well above his career norms.
Point guard Duane Notice is a good outside shooter and surprisingly weak finisher for a burly 225-pounder. While he has 17 assists this season, he's turned the ball over three times in all four games, an issue South Carolina has struggled with as a team so far this season. Sophomore wing PJ Dozier is another Gamecock posting both high assist and turnover rates; he's 7-for-15 on threes this season after shooting only 23% on them as a freshman.
South Carolina has solid size up front. 6'9" power forward Chris Silva is seventh nationally in offensive rebound rate, grabbing 25% of opponent misses on defense, and 11th in the country in block rate while finishing well around the basket and drawing a lot of fouls. Fouls are Silva's Achilles heel right now; he's committing 8.4 per 40 minutes, and as a result he's only cracked 20 minutes played once this season. Estonian freshman center Maik Kotsar gets offensive rebounds and blocks and otherwise plays a minor role, but he's finished really well in limited chances, going 13-for-16 from the field. A 3-for-8 mark at the free-throw line indicates his skills may still be early in the development process. He's backed up by another raw freshman, Senegalese seven-footer Khadim Gueye.
Martin utilizes his bench quite a bit. 6'4" senior sixth man Justin McKie has played over half the team's minutes. He's a poor outside shooter who'd made up for it so far by going 10-for-14 inside the arc. Backup point Hassani Gravett is a JuCo transfer who's struggled with this year's transition to D-I; he's got seven turnovers and eight assists in 19 minutes per game.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
The Gamecocks haven't faced the level of competition Michigan ran over last week. They've played all their games at home and three of them have been comfortable wins over #155 Louisiana Tech, #228 Holy Cross, and #324 South Carolina State. #88 Monmouth, however, took USC to overtime following an 18-point second-half comeback before falling by a point in an ugly defensive slugfest (PPP favored USC 0.85 to 0.84).
Small sample size caveats apply.
The Gamecocks have overcome a high number of turnovers with excellent offensive rebounding and 40% three-point shooting. Notably, the game that featured their worst shooting performance and closest battle on the boards was the overtime win over Monmouth.
South Carolina is only allowing opponents to make 40% of their twos and they've been excellent at cleaning up the glass. Opponents are getting off a high number of threes but haven't reaped the rewards yet; that's usually indicative of fluky good luck for the defense.
Pack the paint. While South Carolina has shot well beyond the arc so far this year, that doesn't look sustainable based on their players's career marks. Michigan has strongly discouraged opponents from taking threes so far this season and that's worked out quite well; if they want to sink into the paint a little more and force the Gamecocks to try to shoot over the top, however, that could pay off.
Clean the glass. An obvious one that still should be pointed out. The matchup of DJ Wilson and Chris Silva will be the most critical in this regard; Wilson will need to be positionally sound and not rely solely on his athleticism to keep Silva from getting second-chance buckets. If Wilson is able to play up the level he has so far, there's a good chance he forces Silva to the bench with foul trouble, which would greatly improve M's chances.
Irvin's midrange game. While the interior game has been good to Michigan so far this year, they could find the going tough against the Gamecocks, who are 17th in block rate and have allowed opponents to make only 40% of their twos. This would be a great game for Zak Irvin to soften up the interior defense with his midrange pull-ups, which serve two purposes—they're reliable late-clock shots and they tend to stretch defenses out when he's got them going. If Irvin hits a couple of those early, there should be more space for Wagner and Donnal to go to work after rolling to the hoop.
THE MOE WAGNER DUNKING ALL OVER A GUY GIF
I'm sorry for my absence so far this week. Without getting into details, drug interactions can be tricky business, and I learned a couple lessons the hard way over the last few days—I am, as always, fortunate to have an understanding boss and supportive coworkers. (Seth is my John O'Korn this week if all O'Korn did was rip off 30-yard scrambles.) While I won't have a full GIFs post this week, I'm trying to get to the highlights from both last week's hoops action and the Iowa game when I can. The new place to look for those is at the MGoBlog gfycat page.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 2.
If Wilson plays as he has so far this season, I really like this matchup for Michigan, especially if they can turn some early South Carolina turnovers into easy fast break buckets.