Michigan Basketball will host their neighbors from Eastern Michigan on Thursday night at Crisler Center. Tip is scheduled for 8:30pm and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Michigan has ascended to #2 in both polls and enters the game with a perfect 11-0 record. It’s the first time since the 1988-89 season that Michigan Basketball has started a season 11-0. It’s also the first time in John Beilein’s 35 year career that one of his teams has started 11-0.
Eastern sports a 6-3 record and has an improbable victory over Purdue. They followed that up by losing to Illinois-Chicago. The Eagles have also been stomped by Syracuse and lost at Jacksonville State. They have 3 players averaging double figures in scoring, led by senior guard Derek Thompson (12.3). Eastern ranks near the bottom in several statistical categories. They check in at 314th nationally in assists per game (10.3), 321st in field goal percentage (38.7%) and 330th in scoring (57.2).
Michigan ranks 5th nationally in field goal percentage (51.1). Interestingly, the Wolverines have defeated two of the four teams ranked ahead of them in that category (NC State ranks 1st and Pitt 4th). This game and the Deecmeber 29th match up with Central Michigan are the final two games of Michigan’s non-conference schedule. The Wolverines have five wins over BCS conference opponents (Pittsburgh, Kansas State, N.C. State, Arkansas and West Virginia), the most in the Big Ten (Indiana and Minnesota each have three). The last time Michigan finished the non-conference portion of their schedule with a perfect record was the 1985-86 season.
Trey Burke has been playing at an All-American caliber and just seems to keep getting better. In the last 6 games, Burke has 43 assists against just 6 turnovers. He leads the Big Ten and ranks 9th nationally in assists (7.0 per game). Burke is third in the conference in scoring (18.0) and over the last 4 games he is shooting 65.3% from the field.
What makes Burke even more dangerous is the vast array of weapons that he is surrounded by on the court. The Wolverines can attack from beyond the arc with guys like, Burke, Nik Stauskas – who leads the country in three point accuracy (54.7%)*, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert. Michigan has size to bang in the paint and rebound with guys like Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary and Jon Horford (who will miss a few weeks with a knee injury). They have athleticism with guys like the high-flying Robinson III, who can play above the rim.
In short, Michigan is one of the more complete and well-rounded teams in the country. They play strong defense, don’t turn the ball over, don’t commit a lot fouls and most importantly, they play as a team with unselfishness and enthusiasm.
Predictions: So far this season, Joe and I are both 11-0 predicting the outcome of Michigan Basketball games. We both like the Wolverines to roll in this one.
Joe: Michigan 79-58
Rob: Michigan 88-50
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*To qualify a player must average 2.5 made three-pointers per game and play in 75% of their team’s games.