#21 Michigan (25-11, 10-8 B1G) vs
#8 Louisville (25-8, 12-6 ACC)
The Nets Are On Fire Fieldhouse
|WHEN||12:10 pm ET, Sunday|
Louisville -3 (KenPom)
Louisville -2.5 (Vegas)
PBP: Jim Nantz
Analyst: Bill Raftery & Grant Hill
Right: If John Beilein is head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Rick Pitino coaches the Monstars. [Bryan Fuller]
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THE LAST TIME
John Beilein on whether he'll show Michigan any clips from 2013 national championship game: pic.twitter.com/nLTEVtX9aW
— Orion Sang (@orion_sang) March 18, 2017
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||4||Quentin Snider||Jr.||6'2, 175||64||21||116||Not At All|
|Good distributor, excellent three-point shooter, iffy finisher inside arc.|
|G||45||Donovan Mitchell||So.||6'3, 195||80||23||114||No|
|Top scoring option has 46/35/92 (2P%/3P%/FT%) shooting splits. Pesky defender.|
|F||22||Deng Adel||So.||6'7, 200||72||20||111||No|
|Lanky wing is primarily a spot-up shooter in halfcourt. Good transition finisher.|
|F||10||Jaylen Johnson||Jr.||6'9, 230||51||20||116||Yes|
|Great offensive rebounder, strong finisher at the rim, iffy foul shooter.|
|C||12||Mangok Mathiang||Sr.||6'10, 220||50||20||112||Very|
|Another great rebounder, rim protector. Lacks touch around rim of other L'ville bigs.|
|F||13||Ray Spalding||So.||6'10, 215||48||18||108||Very|
|Another great rebounder, rim protector. Hits 61% of FGs, 55% of FTs.|
|C||14||Anas Mahmoud||Jr.||7'0, 215||42||16||110||Very|
|Boasts nation's #4 block rate. Good rebounder and finisher, awful FT shooter.|
|F||0||VJ King||Fr.||6'6, 190||33||20||112||No|
|Good outside shooter and finisher, takes too many 2-pt jumpers.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
This is very much a Rick Pitino Louisville squad: rotating giants in the frontcourt, crashing the glass with aplomb, and playing a great defense that throws a few different looks out there.
In fact, let's start up front. The Cardinals platoon four players at the four and five, and all are excellent offensive rebounders. The most experienced is 6'10" senior center Mangok Mathiang, who was in his redshirt year during the 2013 title game, making him the only holdover from that contest on either team. Mathiang is a very good shot-blocker and rebounder; he's only a so-so finisher at the rim. Burly 6'9" starting four Jaylen Johnson is a more effective scorer, though free throws are an issue, and posts the best offensive rebounding rate of the bunch—no small feat.
Johnson has ceded time to 6'10 sophomore Ray Spalding, another great rebounder and strong scorer near the basket who adds more shot-blocking on the other end. As if that weren't enough, the backup center is true seven-footer Anas Mahmoud, who has the fourth-best block rate in the country and makes 62% of his shots from the field. Oddly enough, he's the least productive rebounder of the group. The main weakness for all four players is free-throw shooting; they range from 46% (Mahmoud) to 68% (Mathiang) with relatively high free-throw rates. Turnovers can also be a problem. These guys don't create much on their own, but they'll be a huge problem if Michigan can't contain Louisville's perimeter players, and they form an imposing back line on defense.
Those perimeter players aren't quite Jawun Evans-fast, but they'll be tough to keep out of the lane regardless. Point guard Quentin Snider is a solid passer and excellent spot-up shooter, and while he's not much of a finisher around the rim, he creates a lot of buckets for his giant teammates by drawing in the defense and getting shots up. Two-guard Donovan Mitchell also gets to the rim with regularity and gets those shots to go more often than Snider. He takes half his shots from beyond the arc and hits 35% of them. These two will play most of the game; backup guards Tony Hicks and David Levitch only get spot minutes.
Small forward Deng Adel is a longer version of the guards: a decent, not great, outside shooter who can get to the basket and at least create a chance for a putback. He's backed up by freshman VJ King, the only non-big who gets significant time off the bench; King mostly gets what his teammates create for him, and he's a good three-point shooter.
Louisville tallied a few signature wins in non-conference play, knocking off Purdue on a neutral court before losing to Baylor and beating Wichita State and Kentucky at home. They weren't quite as strong in ACC play, going 2-6 against conference foes currently ranked in the KenPom top 25. The Cardinals made easy work of Jacksonville State in the first round, rebounding nearly half their misses and forcing JSU to try to keep up from the perimeter.
Like Oklahoma State, Louisville makes up for merely decent shooting by getting a ton of offensive rebounds, and they're better at taking care of the rock than the Cowboys. The Cardinals are very much an inside-out offense; they're 278th in 3PA/FGA. They look to get moving downhill off the pick-and-roll.
The defense is an entirely different story. They block a ton of shots and make good looks tough to come by both inside and outside the arc. Their weakness is fouling. If they choose to switch on high ball screens like many opponents have of late, Derrick Walton should be looking to draw contact from their bigs, who are willing to get very aggressive because of their four-man frontcourt rotation.
Stay in front, don't get overwhelmed. Michigan managed to overcome Oklahoma State rebounding over half their missed shots yesterday, but Louisville's defense isn't nearly so forgiving. While the rebounding onus will fall on the bigs, it all starts with guard play: Derrick Walton and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman have to contain Snider and Mitchell, especially off the high screen, because being forced to rotate will inevitably lead to putback opportunities.
Beat the pressure. Rick Pitino says Louisville won't press as much as usual tomorrow. You can bet, however, that he took note of how Oklahoma State's extended pressure once Michigan crossed halfcourt threw off the offense for an extended stretch early in yesterday's game. Michigan will be in trouble if they're scrambling to get their plays started with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. This is probably one of Beilein's top points of emphasis in practice today; he's proven his offense can give Pitino's defenses trouble once they get going, but he hasn't faced Louisville since the shot clock went down from 35 to 30 seconds—a seemingly minor difference that could play a huge role tomorrow.
Go DJ. The more I look at this matchup, the more I believe Michigan must get one of DJ Wilson's better performances of the season to win. Beilein went with Wilson at center down the stretch yesterday not because of Moe Wagner foul trouble, but because he was doing a much better job of challenging shots at the rim. He'll need to do the same tomorrow while keeping Louisville off the offensive glass as much as he can and using his versatile scoring (and drive-and-dish) ability to give their bigs issues on the other end.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Louisville by 3.
If I had to bet, I think Louisville's defense throws Michigan off with extended half-court pressure just enough to outscore them. If the Wolverines shoot close to as well as they did against OSU, however, all bets are off.
Beilein's age, Manuel said, is a non-factor in his mind.
"John is the winningest coach in Michigan history," Manuel said. "I'll address that when he addresses it. I don't see that being for awhile."