Michigan Basketball (20-7, 12-3) will look to stay atop the Big Ten standings when Minnesota (18-11, 7-9) rolls into Ann Arbor Saturday for a 6PM tip on the Big Ten Network. Coming off their last-second win in West Lafayette, the Wolverines’ look to stay on track and “Win The Game” against Minnesota despite some troubling trends in the team’s play despite the standings.
It is no secret to Michigan fans that this team is exceptionally frustrating to watch in the first ten minutes of every game recently. They continue to dig themselves into deeper holes almost every game. Against a skidding Purdue team, they were down as much as 19 and took the lead for the first time in overtime. If that is going to be the case against the eighth-ranked defense in the big ten in terms of field goal percentage, then what is going to happen against excellent defensive teams in the NCAA tourney or even the remainder of the Big Ten schedule.
It was not just the game against Purdue, the team has averaged 26.4 points in the first half over the past 5 games. Over those same 5 games, the Wolverines’ averaged 42.2 points in the second half. To call that a Jekyll and Hyde performance would be an understatement. Maybe assistant coach Bacari Alexander needs to ramp up his notorious pre game speeches because something needs to be done. Minnesota is coming in losing 6 of its last 10 but coming off a high scoring win against reeling Iowa. They have given up 30.4 points in the first half over their past 5 games so unless something drastic happens I see Michigan scoring something between 26 and 32 points in the first half.
The Wolverines’ currently sit dead last in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to go .438 from the field on average. Needless to say they rely on offensive output as they are first in terms of offensive field goal percentage. At a certain point, defense should become a priority for this team as an off shooting game essentially results in loss every time. Minnesota averages 72.2 points per game while Michigan gives up 65.4 points per game. On the flip side, Michigan averages 75.2 points per game while Minnesota gives up 67.9 points per game. Seeing as both of these stats are in the Wolverines’ favor, this game should go Michigan’s way.
Seemingly off-topic but worth noting; Ann Arbor will have a significantly diminished student presence as spring break starts today and almost everyone is scrambling to escape the permanent refrigerator that is Ann Arbor. There will be significantly less noise in Crisler tomorrow night as the student section will be diminished and non-student attendees have an embarrassing habit of showing up ten minutes after tip-off. This will definitely not aid the team’s issue with slow starts and we will see how much of an impact it truly has.
Prediction: Michigan grabs the win 73-67.
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