Apologies for the delay, Denard happened.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Connecticut|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
January 16th, 2010
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Wolverines have been inconsistent all year, but from this (admittedly optimistic) observer's point of view, they are really improving as the year goes on. Part of that is the maturation of Darius Morris and the Stu Douglass comfort level at point guard, and part of it is improving leadership. Hell, part of it might just be a mirage that I'm fooling myself into believing. The Wolverines are the 4th most efficient Big Ten team overall since conference play began, so maybe I'm not crazy after all.
Part of the improvement from Michigan's end has been production on the inside (or the mid-range) from DeShawn Sims, with Manny Harris providing the slashing to the bucket, allowing the role players to be just that - role players. The improvement on the defensive end has been notable as well, with Darius Morris coming into his own as a college player.
This game is a big deal for the Wolverines. They limped through the non-conference season during December, and could use a big win outside the league to salvage what has looked like a major regression on the court.
The Huskies come into Crisler Arena with a #15 ranking (sure to drop next week, as they're on a 2-game slide), and an 11-5 record (1-4 away from home). Their losses have come to Duke and Kentucky (in Madison Square Garden), at Cincinnati and Georgetown, and home against Pittsburgh. That last one may be relevant because, according to AnnArbor.com's Mike Rothstein, UConn coach Jim Calhoun said Michigan is a similar team to the Panthers.
Key players for UConn include guards Jerome Dyson (the scorer) and Kemba Walker (the distributor). They're also key defensive players, and Michigan has had trouble this year when facing athletic guards on the opposing team. The defensive tone is also set by shot blocks, as the 6-9 trio of Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards, and Alex Oriakhi are all in the nation's top 300 in block %.
UConn hasn't proven itself as much as you'd think, and Michigan might have a decent chance for a win. This isn't last year's team. The tempo-free profiles bear out that MIchigan isn't too far behind the Huskies.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Connecticut: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||UConn Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Conn Def eFG%||169||11||CC|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Conn eFG%||197||123||C|
|Mich TO% v. Conn Def TO%||20||307||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Conn TO%||37||101||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Conn DReb%||239||182||C|
|Mich DReb% v. Conn OReb%||246||72||CC|
|Mich FTR v. Conn Opp FTR||330||4||CCCC|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Conn FTR||13||41||M|
|Mich AdjO v. Conn AdjD||79||29||C|
|Mich AdjD v. Conn AdjO||68||69||-|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
That matchup, on paper, certainly doesn't look like the difference between a top-15 squad and one that has already been written off as an NIT contender, at best. UConn is a pretty good team, but Michigan has been progressing pretty well statistically since the year's rough start. If they can hammer out the inconsistencies, the Wolverines stand a decent chance against UConn.
Still, it's hard to see Michigan standing even with the Huskies in this game, despite the fact that they hung tough last year on the road. The home fans will be a big factor, and a bit of luck will be required. If Michigan can keep the game close until the end, they stand a chance to pull the upset. Otherwise, I see this as a comfortable 10-15 point win for the men from Storrs. Surprisingly, Kenpom disagrees, saying Michigan should emerge as 1-point victors.
Fans, this is important: tomorrow is an official maize out, so wear your maize, and come early, as the first 7,000 fans will get a "rally spinner," whatever that is. Also, UConn has been shaky away from their home arena, ,so bring some serious noise and cheer the Wolverines on to victory.