The #3 ranked Michigan Wolverines (10-0) will play on a neutral site (the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn) against West Virginia on Saturday night. Tip is set for 8 pm and the game will be televised on ESPN.
At the time that this matchup was put together it looked awfully intriguing. The marquee read John Beilein taking on the school where he first stamped his coaching legend. On the other side sits Bob Huggins, the Mountaineers latest front man. Both teams are coming off of successful seasons from a year ago, but both also lost in their opening round matchup of the NCAA tourney.
And now, it simply looks like a grotesque mismatch of talent and superior play. Michigan is drubbing all comers and West Virginia is, well, getting drubbed by most comers.
The Mountaineers (4-4) started their season with a 34 point loss to Gonzaga, the same team who bounced them from March Madness a season ago. They have also lost to Davidson, Oklahoma, and most recently Duquesne on Tuesday night. Ouch. Their 4 wins have come against Marist, VMI, Marshall, and Virginia Tech.
Why Michigan will win
Need I say anything more than what’s written above? OK, fine:
- Michigan ranks 7th nationally in field goal % at 50.7% – West Virginia ranks 307th at a sorry 39% (trust me, it took a while to find them on the list)
- Michigan is 12th in the nation in 3-point efficiency at 40.8% – West Virginia ranks 326th at 26.4%
- Michigan’s 1.56 assist-to-turnover ratio is 6th best in the country – West Virginia ranks 68th at 1.14
- A nerdy little stat that I love is points per possession. Michigan, a model of efficiency, ranks 4th nationally at 1.22 – West Virginia ranks 148th at 1.02 points/possession.
- Michigan ranks 33rd in the nation with 77 points/game. WVU check in at #162 with 69.2 ppg.
So the lessons here are that Michigan is really good and WVU is struggling to find their way. Huggins will throw a lot of players onto the court and try to grind the game down a bit, which seems wise against Michigan’s new high-flying attack led by Trey Burke.
The only way Michigan struggles is if the Mountaineers catch a hot hand out of the blue against a really good defense and somehow rattle Michigan’s ability to score with efficiency. The likelihood of those two things happening is mighty slim.
Michigan’s “Big 4” are all averaging in double digits, led by Burke’s 17.1 ppg and 6.9 assists/game. Tim Hardaway Jr. is at 14.8 ppg and 5.5 rebound/game. Nik Stauskas, in his freshman season, is hitting at a 58.7% clip from long range and scoring 13.5 ppg. Throw in extremely quiet production from fellow freshman Glenn Robinson III (11.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and increasing productivity from big men Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary, and Michigan has the goods to continue their undefeated trend.
So far Rob and I are both 10-0 predicting the outcome of Michigan games this year. We both feel that they won’t take a loss until they play at Ohio State in their 17th game of the year. With that in mind:
Rob: Michigan 74-60
Joe: Michigan 79-59
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