Tip: Saturday, noon (EST)
Location: Allen Fieldhouse
Broadcast crew: Dave O’Brien, Jay Bilas, Holly Rowe
Michigan (5-4) will head west again, this time to the legendary Allen Fieldhouse to face the consensus #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks (9-0). By the time the Wolverines hit the ground in Lawrence they will have had a week off for exams and preparation.
Kansas is loaded. Freshman Xavier Henry was just named the Big 12 Player and Rookie of the Week for the second straight week. Henry, a 6-foot-6 guard, leads Kansas in scoring and three-point shooting. He averages 18 points per game and has knocked down 24 of 45 three-pointers (53%). Senior point guard, Sherron Collins runs the show for the Jayhawks and averages 13.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. The Wolverines will also have their hands full down low with 6-foot-11 Cole Aldrich who comes in averaging 12 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
The Jayhawks high-octane offense ranks third nationally averaging 90.3 points per game. Bill Self’s squad also ranks second nationally in field goal percentage defense (34.3%).
Michigan began the season with much fanfare and lofty expectations. So why the disappointing 5-4 start? That question was posed to John Beilein after the Detroit game, “I think we’ve played a very difficult schedule” Beilein said. “I think we were over-rated in the beginning. We finished 7th in the Big Ten [last year], there are 11 teams in the Big Ten we finished 7th. It wasn’t like we were a juggernaut last year.”
A few other reasons include the following stats; Michigan ranks 279th nationally in rebounding margin, they rank 246th nationally in three-point field goal percentage and 219th in field goal percentage defense. Combine those stats and the difficult schedule and you have a disappointing 5-4 start. I know that all the Michigan fans are frustrated with the early season struggles. I can tell you that the players and coaches are also disappointed and they are working hard to right the ship.
The good news is that Michigan played their best basketball of the season in the second half of the Detroit win. Manny Harris is 9 for 16 from three-point land in Michigan’s last 3 games. I really think the team might have turned the corner during that second half against the Titans. The bad news is waiting around that corner are the Kansas Jayhawks.
When a John Beilein coached team is clicking they can take out anybody anywhere. Through the first 9 games of the season Michigan has sputtered not clicked, but they are getting closer. On Sunday, Manny Harris said, “one little click, we just got to have and once we have it, I think it’s going to be hard for us to be beat.”
Prediction: If they are clicking the Wolverines have a chance, but they will have to play a near flawless game to pull this huge upset. For the Wolverines to have a chance in this game they will need Manny to be in triple-double form, DeShawn Sims will have to play well, and they have to knock down 10 triples, all while playing their best defensive game of the season.
Kansas 84 Michigan 70
Notes: Not all the stats are bad. Michigan ranks 4th nationally in turnovers per game (10.0) and they rank 9th nationally in Assist Turnover Ratio (1.53).
Michigan is 1-20 all-time against #1 ranked teams. The sole win came in December 1997 when Michigan knocked off Duke at Crisler Arena.
You can read Chris Resor’s preview of this game from a Kansas slant by clicking here
Manny Harris: 22.2
DeShawn Sims: 15.6
Laval Lucas-Perry: 7.4
Manny Harris: 8.4
DeShawn Sims: 7.4
Zack Novak: 4.4
Manny Harris: 5.0
Stu Douglass: 2.6
Darius Morris: 2.2
Manny Harris: 2.0
Zack Novak: 1.5
DeShawn Sims: 1.2
Laval Lucas-Perry: 13-36 (36%)
Manny Harris: 13-45 (29%)
DeShawn Sims: 12-32 (38%)