Preview: Eastern Michigan

Submitted by BiSB on December 9th, 2014 at 5:31 PM

THE ESSENTIALS

emu-smash

WHAT Michigan (6-2) vs.
Eastern Michigan (7-1)
WHERE Crisler Center,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 9:00* pm EST, Tuesday
LINE Michigan -10 (KenPom)
TV BTN ESPNU

*Actual time TBD. Game tips after 6:30 WBB game vs. Princeton

SO THAT HAPPENED

Okay, elephant in the room. Michigan is coming off a loss to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. And not at technology things. At basketball. In a real game.

Fortunately, basketball upsets are not quite like football upsets. Rivals will guffaw, and will bring it up for years. Buckeyes and Spartans are buying NJIT stuff like hotcakes. And Michigan fans are pretty confident that unlike, say, App State, this is just a sign that crap happens. Beilein Uber Alles.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are from this season now—yes, there will be a fair amount of noise in these numbers for a while. 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.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss SIBMIHHAT
G 1 Mike Talley Sr. 6'0, 176 61 21 No
Incredibly efficient, pass-first PG. Gets to the line a LOT.
G 0 Ray Lee So. 6'3, 170 75 30 No
Another massive usage guard. Having a really good year. DANGERMAN.
F 14 Karrington Ward Sr. 6'8, 212 79 22 Yes
Large guy. Splits time between the three and four.
F 3 Anali Okoloji Sr. 6'8, 232 56 22 Kinda
Big guy, can step out and shoot.
C 30 Mike Samuels Jr. 6'11, 285 35 27 Very
Big dude is big. Probably a more comfy matchup for Doyle.
G/F 5 Jodan Price So. 6'7, 180 52 18 No
Splits between the two and three. Exclusively a deep threat. Literally.
C 12 Lekan Ajayi Jr. 6'11, 245 37 10 Oh yeah
Splits time with Samuels at the five. Zero offensive anything, other than OR%
G 25 Ethan Alvano Fr. 6'1, 170 41 16 Yup yup yup
10% eFG% is bad. 0-11 from deep. Really good A/TO ratio.

*returning starter

THE THEM

First, the bad news: Eastern Michigan Basketball is most decidedly not Eastern Michigan Football. The basketball version is 7-1, which is more wins than the football team has put up in the last three seasons combined. Instead of being a doormat, they are potentially in the hunt to compete in the MAC. They’re #132 in KenPom. Northwestern is #129. This is a real team.

Now, the good news: Eastern put together their seven wins by playing three Division 2 schools, four schools in the 200’s or worse in KenPom (#206 Oakland, #201 Youngstown State, #293 UNC Greensboro, and #343 Longwood*). They are coming off a nine point loss to #56 Dayton, however, which isn’t a terrible result.

More good news: Michigan already beat the much better version of this team. It was called Syracuse. EMU head coach Rob Murphy spent six years as an assistant to Jim Boeheim, and runs the same 2-3 zone. And like Syracuse, EMU is tall and long; their effective height is #44 in the country, and they can run a lineup that averages over 6’8” at the two through the five. They block a lot of shots, and they pick up a lot of steals.  They give up a lot of three point attempts. Their profile is very much the profile of a 2-3 zone team, and one that runs an effective version of the 2-3.

No reason.

Offensively, Eastern is led by shooting guard Ray Lee, who uses 29.9% of possessions and takes 32% of shots when he’s on the floor. He is currently shooting 64.4% eFG% from the field, but that may be SoS-influenced; that number was 44.4% last year. He’s also shooting 46% from three, but shot only 31% as a freshman. Maybe he took a leap, but he has also undoubtedly boosted his stats by feasting on some delicious snacky cakes.

The other dangerman is point guard Mike Talley. The Duquesne transfer doesn’t shoot a lot (though he is efficient when he does so), but his assist numbers are astronomical. He also gets to the foul line; he’s one of 13 players in the country playing real minutes with more free throw attempts than field goal attempts. He is currently only 68% from the line, however. Talley is also the son of former Michigan point guard Michael Talley.

One oddity to note: primary backup Jodan Price, who spends most of his time at the three, is 38% (11-29) from three, but is 0-9 from two.

As a team, Eastern does a couple of things very well: they take care of the ball and they get to the foul line; they have four players who draw 5+ fouls per 40 minutes. Some of this may be the result of experience (they run three seniors in the starting lineup), or just being coached by someone far more not bad than the folks who have coached Eastern Michigan Football in the last ALL THE YEARS.

*Hehe. Longwood.

THE TEMPO-FREE

[Ed-Seth: I did my best to recreate Ace's thing here]

THE KEYS

Hit threes – This is a pretty obvious point for a Beilein team in pretty much every game, but nearly 40% of the shots that go up against Eastern are from beyond the arc. If Michigan’s snipers have an above-average night, this one could get out of hand early. If Zak Irvin goes 1-of-8 from deep again… Zak Irvin should not go 1-of-8 from deep again.

Stay out of foul trouble – Michigan doesn’t foul. Eastern lives on foul shots. Fortunately, most of that pressure is in the backcourt, where that prospect is a little less concerning than for the bigs, but if Caris picks up a couple of cheapies, the autobench could make things interesting going into the half. Which is why Michigan needs to…

Push it. Puh-push it real good – Eastern has played the second weakest schedule of defensive teams in the country. Their only decent opponent, Dayton, shoots under 50% eFG% and can’t shoot threes for crap. There’s a good chance that it will take the Eagles some time to adjust to this quality of offensive opponent. Michigan has a chance to wipe that New Jersey-ish taste out of its mouth if it can pressure EMU early offensively, not from a tempo standpoint but from an efficient murder-death-machine standpoint.

THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES

Michigan by 10.

ELSEWHERE

Dylan’s UMHoops preview. Brennan Quinn’s MLive previews. A camera carried by a helper monkey who is following Jim Harbaugh around.

Comments

Kfojames

December 9th, 2014 at 6:07 PM ^

I feel like this is a game where maybe we rely a little heavier on our go to guys(guys who've been in the main rotation). And Arizona might be an opportunity to get ARR and Dawkins some minutes because it's such a tall feat to win at zona anyway even though they squeeked by the zags at home. Unless we have some spots in the game against EMU where were up by 15. I'm not sure we can afford another home loss to a lower level team albeit a good lower level team. I know it's a long season and they'll get opportunities but I feel like those two need to start garnering minutes so they can push the starters at least from a defensive intensity perspective. In some ways you do have to admit this is a bit of a rebuilding year from the perspective of Horford and McGary leaving and gutting our frontline. Guys can't get entitled or complacent. However in the end I should never worry too much because we have JB directing the ship!

RobM_24

December 9th, 2014 at 6:26 PM ^

Hopefully we show that NJIT was a fluke. However, I expect us to struggle again. With Walton's toe issue, the only players we have that can play effectively on both ends are Irvin and LeVert. Our big men are complete liabilities. Hopefully our bigs improve and Chatman starts adjusting to the college game speed.

Avant's Hands

December 10th, 2014 at 12:36 PM ^

BiSB...you are my favorite writer on this site. I love the Opponent Watch stuff. You just really get me with your humor. And I love the golden retriever. So I say this with all due respect. Maybe you should let someone else do the basketball preview posts while Ace is sick. Maybe sit the next couple of plays out. Not that I'm the superstitious type or anything.