A good word to describe Michigan’s basketball season up to this point might be: unlucky.
A couple of late runs by Iowa State robbed the young Wolverines of a key road victory.
The close loss at Charlotte, where one missed assignment led to the game winning layup.
Duke was the single aberration of the Wolverines’ losses, as Michigan was clearly outplayed from the start at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Then came Arizona, a chance to knock off the best team in the nation on home turf. A phantom foul call on Mitch McGary gave the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish.
The bad luck didn’t stop there, as Mitch McGary is now nowhere close to 100%. Michigan coach John Beilein said that there is a chance that McGary could sit out Saturday with a number of injuries.
After those unfortunate losses, a 6 and 4 Michigan limps into the Barclays Center to play the Stanford Cardinal. The game will air on Fox Sports 1, and tipoff is slated for 8:37 Eastern time. This is the second to last nonconference game for Michigan, and is incredibly important to a struggling team. A loss would give Michigan five losses, which is not a promising start heading into a brutal Big Ten schedule.
As Michigan recovers from the heartbreaking loss against Arizona that continued their plummet out of the top 25, Stanford is coming off an upset of 10th ranked Connecticut on Wednesday night and is 8-2 on the season.
Stanford is shooting at a 48% clip from the field on the year, but they only score an average amount of points, ranking 57th in the nation in points per game. These points come mostly from the three-pronged scoring attack of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, and Dwight Powell.
Randle is the leading scorer on the team, averaging 18.6 per game. He has a high shooting percentage and is equally adept at pulling up from long-range or getting to the basket. The 6-2 junior is shooting 52% from the floor.
The third leading scorer is Dwight Powell, and he is also the leading rebounder on the team. He is another feature of Canada’s influx of talent in college basketball, hailing from Toronto. The 6-10 forward also adds four assists per game, in addition to 14 points and 8 rebounds. Michigan will need a strong performance to stop Powell, and Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan may have to absorb most of McGary’s minutes defending the big man.
Michigan’s loss to Arizona was one that showed some promise for a team struggling to find some identity. Glenn Robinson III was strong in the first half, aggressively looking for his shot, even hitting a step-back three-pointer. His second half was lackluster, as Michigan failed to get him enough looks. An equally aggressive Robinson would help Michigan to a win.
Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert played the role of second bananas, scoring 14 and 15 respectively. However, both needed to take a lot of shots to claim their points and didn’t end with their best games. They need to find their shooting touch, especially to make up for lack of McGary’s post points.
The Barclays Center is a familiar confine for the Wolverines, as they defeated West Virginia there last year. Michigan has a strong alumni base in New York and New Jersey, so expect the Maize and Blue faithful to show up to cheer on their team.
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