Duke’s two losses have come at the hands of Kansas and Arizona. They were also pushed to the limit by Alabama in New York and barely edged out Vermont 91-90 at home on Nov. 24. The Blue Devils are led by all-world freshman Jabari Parker who comes in with a stat sheet stuffing line of 23 points, 8 boards, 1.75 blocks and 1.25 steals per game. Forward Rodney Hood is averaging 20 points per game and Quinn Cook has been playing really well for Duke at point guard.
Like most teams, Michigan hasn’t enjoyed much success at Cameron Indoor. The Wolverines are 3-9 at the fabled arena and haven’t won there since 1996.
This will be the first ranked opponent Michigan has faced this season. Iowa State, now ranked 17th, was unranked when they knocked off the Wolverines. There are more tough games on the horizon for Michigan as #2 Arizona will visit Crisler in 11 days.
Glenn Robinson III
Mitch McGary is the key
For Michigan to win this game, they will need a full dose of Mitch McGary. He will need to touch the ball a lot more on offense than he has so far this season. His rebounding will also be a key factor as the Blue Devils aren’t particularly strong on the glass and they don’t have anybody who matches up well with McGary.
In Michigan’s last two games, including the loss to Charlotte, McGary has taken a combined 10 shots. That’s simply not enough touches for a player of his dynamic ability. He should be getting closer to 10 shots per game and touching the ball a lot in the paint. When he gets the ball in the paint he acts as a hub for the offense and can do a lot of good things. Think back to the Syracuse game in last year’s Final Four, when he picked the Orange apart in the paint.
This game features two teams that like to run and gun. McGary plays a big role in getting the Wolverines loose in the open court. His defensive rebounding and outlet passes trigger a lot of fast breaks for Michigan. Another way McGary, who averages a team-high 2.2 steals per game, kick-starts transition opportunities is with his relentless defense. If he’s not stealing the ball, he’s poking it away from an opposing player or diving on the floor to scrape up a loose ball.
McGary has also been known to lead the fast break himself and shows surprising athleticism and ball-handling skills for a 6-foot-10, 255 pound player.
Nik Stauskas should play
John Beilein wisely held Nik Stauskas out of the Coppin State game, to allow his ankle some time to heal. Although he’s not likely to be 100%, Stauskas should play against Duke and his scoring ability, both from long range and on the dribble drive, will be important.
His absence in the Coppin State game allowed Zak Irvin to have a breakout game. Irvin poured in 24 points and knocked down six three-pointers in the game. He gives Michigan another legitimate scoring option and has great length.
Along with McGary, Stauskas will have to play a key role if Michigan is going to upset Duke. He leads the Wolverines in scoring (20.3 ppg) and is shooting 50.7% from the field and 47.4% from beyond the arc.
GR3, 1-3-1 and free throws
Glenn Robinson III is a real X-factor for Michigan. If he asserts himself offensively, the Wolverines become a very explosive team. He is a good rebounder and can ignite the team with his above the rim repertoire. If Robinson scores in double digits and pulls down 6-8 rebounds, that is a good sign for Michigan.
The 1-3-1 zone was effective when Michigan used it in Puerto Rico. With the long, lanky Caris LeVert at the top of it, this year’s team has the length to make the 1-3-1 a nightmare for opposing teams.
Free throw shooting could play a huge role in this game. For Michigan, Nik Stauskas has made 46 trips to the charity stripe in six games. For Duke, Rodney Hood has attempted 54 free throws in eight games and Jabari Parker has 49 attempts. All three players are converting those freebies at a high percentage; Hood (83%), Stauskas (74%), and Parker (74%).
Duke is 12-2 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Duke, who lost their last game to Arizona, has lost back-to-back games just one time since the 2009-10 season and is 20-1 following a loss during that span.
Duke has won 106 consecutive non-conference games at home.
Michigan is 5-7 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
With just two upperclassmen, Michigan is the 7th youngest team in the country.
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