Preview: Connecticut

Submitted by Tim on January 16th, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Apologies for the delay, Denard happened.

The EssentialsUConn.gif

WHAT Michigan v. Connecticut
WHERE Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 1:30PM EST
January 16th, 2010
THE LINE
TELEVISION ESPN2

*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.

Michigan

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.

UConn

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.

Tempo-Free Breakdown

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.

Comments

aaamichfan

January 16th, 2010 at 6:42 PM ^

Michigan will have to get hot behind the arc if they want to have any chance of coming out victorious. I see them having serious trouble defending the frontcourt size of UCONN. Win or lose, I will be attending the game tomorrow and expect to have a great time.

erik_t

January 16th, 2010 at 7:06 PM ^

DEATH TO [color]-OUTS. Jesus. When did fans lose the ability to determine all by themselves that they should wear a school color to a game?

maineandblue

January 16th, 2010 at 7:44 PM ^

Game's on CBS, not ESPN2, which will be showing tennis. You got my hopes up, as I have Direct TV. They lied to me and told me I would get local networks. I digress, and will have to find a bar or internet feed.
Win tomorrow = glimmer of hope, imhe.

Snidely Doo Rash

January 16th, 2010 at 8:12 PM ^

better wake up and help out peedi with a significant contribution inside or I think this is one is academic for the snow buddies. Even then, they will need good shot selection and and % for 40. Calhoun is a very good coach, but I think Beilein's D schemes might hold us in the game since they are offbeat and talent laden teams tend to blow this off in prep.

Go Maize!

Zone Left

January 16th, 2010 at 9:33 PM ^

Ok, topping the UConn preview with "Denard happened" scared the crap out of me on the ride home after 15 hours at work. I thought he transferred or got shot by an MSU fan. The frantic scrolling froze my iPhone.

Good to see he's still made of dilithium though.

Poor choice of 1st sentences.

jamiemac

January 16th, 2010 at 9:49 PM ^

Huh. I'm intrigued. Probably not what I hope they are though.

Kidding aside, oddsmakers expect the betting public to give Michigan an excellent chance of winning.

Early line via pinnacle sports is a Pick 'Em.

Whoa. Remember what I said two weeks going into the OSU game. A wise bookie once told him to always bet the unranked favorite over a ranked team. We'll see which way the early betting goes in this one.

Go Blue.

Just an update, sportsbook.com has released lines for the games Sunday now. They have UConn -1. So not a unranked fav over ranked team as of yet. At leat not where Americans can bet. Pinnacle, where its a pick, does not accept Yankee customers.

SpartanDan

January 16th, 2010 at 10:16 PM ^

My guess is they're those goofy little circular things with swirl patterns on them so you can spin it and distract free throw shooters or something. Some student sections elsewhere have a few of them (at least behind the basket) on a regular basis; think it's GT or Wake.

mblood7

January 17th, 2010 at 7:02 AM ^

Shit My frat has rush football at 1pm!

hmmmm... skip rush,get booted from frat, and watch Michigan whoop some Huskies ass

or play flag football and miss the game

oh well It was fun while it lasted see everyone in the live thread

EchoEcho

January 17th, 2010 at 12:09 PM ^

I was at the Pitt game the other night and was happy to see Pitt getting plenty of looks behind the arc. I'm no basketball expert so I can't offer much more analysis but UConn just didn't look cohesive and didn't really get into the game until the 4th quarter. The fans seem to just have accepted that this is going to be an off year for the team. I like our chances at Crisler.

KBLOW

January 17th, 2010 at 12:47 PM ^

I'd like our chances one hell of a lot more if UConn wasn't a little losing streak. Coming into this game with a few wins in a row for the Huskies would've been perfect for us. Still, IF we hit the three's better than we have as of late I think we can get win.

urbanachiever

January 17th, 2010 at 12:37 PM ^

I just can't see stopping their bigs. Obviously no Thabeet like last year, but they've got three guys at 6'9". We've got Sims, who doesn't play very good post defense IMO, and Gibson who, well, is Gibson

Tim Waymen

January 17th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

Who called the game? They were pretty good, especially the color commentator. And that redhead cheerleader shown while the officials were reviewing whether Kemba Walker was fouled behind the 3-pt line was absolutely gorgeous. Seeing that beauty on TV made me wish I was still the Heisman-winning QB playing at UM.