The surging Michigan Wolverines (15-4, 7-0) will host Purdue (13-7, 3-4) on Thursday night at the Crisler Center. Tip is scheduled for 9:05pm (EST) and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Michigan enters the contest riding a nine-game winning streak that has seen them go from unranked to #10 in the AP Poll. During that streak, Michigan has won their first 7 Big Ten games, including three consecutive victories over Top 10 ranked teams in the last three games.
The strong and cold-blooded play of Nik Stauskas has fueled Michigan’s streak. The sophomore guard leads the Big Ten in scoring (18.5) and has been lights out from beyond the arc, he leads the conference in three-point percentage (46.2) and three pointers per game (2.7). He is the reigning Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week and has seen his NBA stock sky rocket during Michigan’s winning streak.
As much as Stauskas has fueled the streak, there are of course other factors that have propelled the Wolverines. The rapid improvement of freshman point guard Derrick Walton, the duo of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford as well as the unselfish, team-first mentality of the entire roster.
Michigan leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (48.5), free throw percentage (75.1) and three-point percentage (39.1). The Wolverines proficiency extends to protecting the rock, Michigan ranks 5th nationally in fewest turnovers per game, and not committing a lot of fouls, U-M leads the nation in fewest fouls per game.
Having held their last five opponents to under 42% shooting, the Boilers have played stout defense recently. However, their offense has labored over the course of their last three games. A stretch in which Purdue has averaged 61 points and shot 31.7% from the field.
The Boilers are paced by guards Terone Johnson and Ronnie Johnson. Center AJ Hammons, who lead the Big Ten in blocked shots, has also been playing well for coach Matt Painter, whose team is looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
Wolverines remain focused
This match up against Purdue marks the beginning of yet another grueling stretch for Michigan. The Wolverines will play five games in 13 days with three road games — at Indiana, at Iowa and at Ohio State.
Despite their recent success, the Wolverines aren’t satisfied and know that there is a lot of important basketball still to be played. “That’s the one thing you’ve got to worry about now is guys getting satisfied,” said Jordan Morgan. “I don’t think we’ve seen any signs of that in practice. They’re still hungry.”
I don’t think there will be any let up in this team. From the jump, they have played a challenging schedule. They took some lumps early, but have banded together to form what is a very dangerous team. The Wolverines have a multitude of scoring options and they play unselfish basketball, emphasizing the team and they realize that each game is as important as the last.
It should be a fantastic atmosphere at Crisler Center and I don’t expect any post MSU hangover from the Wolverines. Look for Stauskas to continue his torrid play and I have a hunch Glenn Robinson III will be more involved offensively. Michigan should cruise to a 10-15 point win and then they set their sights on a Super Bowl Sunday tilt at Indiana.
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