#27 Michigan (6-2) vs #71
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan -10 (KenPom)|
PBP: Jason Benetti
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: Oddly enough, our file photo of Shaka Smart from his VCU days features him sporting an orange tie. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
John Beilein and the Wolverines are quite familiar with Shaka Smart and his Texas squad's style of play, most notably the aggressive "Havoc" press Smart made famous at VCU. Michigan, of course, picked apart that press in their tournament blowout of VCU on the way to the 2013 Final Four; they also had a relatively comfortable six-point victory over last year's Longhorns squad in the Bahamas.
To help break the press, expect to see a lot more of freshman point guard Xavier Simpson than the spot minutes he's played so far this season:
"It won't be a 'OK, we've got to play him against Texas because he has to get used to this stuff,' but it's more about (Texas' defense) and as much as they (press), it'll wear Derrick out," Beilein said. "The other day against Kennesaw State, he got wore out a little bit and it impacted his offense. He sat down for a little bit and came back more fresh.
"We're going to need (Simpson) to help Derrick. Not just to beat their press or attack their defense but to also give (Walton) a rest."
Simpson has shown the ability to be a defensive pest; his offense is still coming along, and he'll need to be careful with the ball against a team hoping to jump-start their lagging offense with easy buckets off turnovers.
In the bigger picture, Michigan could really use a home win against a power conference team after squandering a golden opportunity last week against Virginia Tech. Their only other chance at adding a signature non-conference win to the two victories in NYC is Saturday's game at UCLA, which is fresh off an upset at Kentucky; this game looks far more tractable.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||12||Kerwin Roach||So.||6'4, 175||58||27||99||Yeah|
|Slasher at his best getting to hoop/line. Not much of a shooter. Turnover prone.|
|G||1||Andrew Jones||Fr.||6'4, 190||53||25||103||Yeah|
|Walton-like defensive rebounder. Another turnover-prone slasher/meh shooter.|
|G/F||0||Tevin Mack||So.||6'7, 220||60||23||112||No|
|Shooting very well after a rough FR year. Not much other statistical impact.|
|F||31||Jarrett Allen||Fr.||6'11, 235||70||23||98||Very|
|Good shot-blocker and offensive rebounder, decent finisher. Only 52% on FTs.|
|F||32||Shaquille Cleare||Sr.||6'8, 275||47||20||90||Very|
|Burly, good not great rebounder on both ends. Career 55% on 2P.|
|G||10||Eric Davis||So.||6'3, 195||67||20||87||Kinda?|
|38% 3P shooter last year mired in a 6-for-37 slump. Just A Shooter™, so lost starting role.|
|G||5||Kendal Yacey||Sr.||6'3, 210||57||16||109||No|
|Low-usage defensive specialist. Decent shooter.|
|C||4||James Banks||Fr.||6'10, 240||39||10||95||Very|
|Minuscule usage, good rebound and block rates, only 6/14 from the field.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
You may have noticed that, even though Michigan played Texas last year, only a few of the names above were mentioned in the Bahamas. The Longhorns have an entirely new starting lineup, and only sophomore guard Eric Davis—who's been benched after starting the season's first six games—played over half the team's minutes in 2015-16.
In related news, Texas is off to a rough 4-3 start this year with double-digit losses to #44 Northwestern, #53 Colorado, and #73 UT Arlington; they've dropped from preseason #45 on KenPom down to #71. Their only victory in a non-guarantee game was last Friday's comeback nine-point home win over #79 Alabama after trailing by 12 at the half.
The lack of a productive true point guard is at the root of many of Texas's problems. Projected starters Kerwin Roach and Andrew Jones are both great athletes who get to the rim with regularity; they also have a combined 29 assists and 28 turnovers. Eric Davis takes much better care of the ball in large part because he's a far less willing passer. He's more a Just A Shooter™ type, and that's a huge problem given his season-long shooting slump; he's 12-for-29 on twos and 6-for-37 on threes. That two-point mark is actually an improvement on his freshman-year numbers, but the three-point accuracy is a huge dropoff from last season's 38%.
Like Davis, Kendal Yancey is Just A Shooter™ who started the first six games before coming off the bench against Alabama. While he's shooting the ball pretty well, he has eight turnovers against two assists this season.
Sophomore wing Tevin Mack has been Texas's most reliable shooter to start the year and was rewarded with a start against the Tide. After starting 11-for-20 from beyond the arc, however, he's gone 3-for-14 over the last three games. He's made up for that with efficient finishing at the rim, but we'll see if that holds; he was a woeful 17-for-62 inside the arc last season.
The Longhorns rotate three big men. 6'11" freshman Jarrett Allen has the profile of a young player still getting comfortable in the college game. While he has good offensive rebounding and block rates, he's made a limited impact on the defensive boards, and he's shooting better from the field (56%) than at the line (52%). He's also turned the ball over multiple times in all but one game, including an ugly five-point, five-turnover performance in the loss to Northwestern.
6'8", 275-pound senior Shaquille Cleare has started all seven games, though he hasn't been very good. Cleare is only 17-for-38 from the field, isn't getting to the line, and has a turnover rate north of 20. While he's blocking more shots than he has in the past, his rebounding numbers are mediocre. His backup, 6'10 freshman James Banks, has a similar profile with half the possession usage: decent rebounding, high block rate, poor finishing, and only a couple trips to the line. Even though Texas has plenty of size, Michigan should have an edge on the interior.
Whoops, already covered this.
Small sample size caveats apply.
Four Factors explanation
Texas has been a horrid shooting team so far this year. Only one major conference team has a worse three-point mark than the 27.1% put up by the Longhorns: yup, of course it's Rutgers. They're finishing well on the interior—52.3% on twos—and very frequent trips to the line help make up for an ugly 65.0 FT%.
The Longhorns defense is creating surprisingly little havoc. They're below-average in creating turnovers. Until last season, Smart had never coached a defense with a turnover rate below 21.1% (his first year at VCU); Texas posted an 18.5% rate last season and are languishing at 18.1% this season. It looks like luck is keeping the defense afloat; despite getting a high rate of three-point attempts—to be expected against a heavy-press team—Texas opponents are shooting 29.8% from beyond the arc. Notably, Northwestern and Colorado both shot above 40% on threes in wins against the Longhorns.
Boss DJ. Michigan's defense functions much better with DJ Wilson on the court, and he's been effective enough on offense to make him a clearly superior option to Duncan Robinson, all else being equal. Wilson fouled himself out of the VT game with some boneheaded, unnecessary plays going for offensive rebounds. Going against a team with this much size up front, Michigan needs him to stay on the floor.
X factor. As noted above, Xavier Simpson is going to get a bigger role in this game to help break Texas's full-court press defense and keep Derrick Walton fresh. Michigan doesn't need Simpson to do much on offense other than take care of the ball, but that's not a given for a freshman point guard facing a Shaka Smart team. This is a huge test for M's prize freshman.
Bombs away. Texas is one of the better shot-blocking teams in the country; due in large part to that, they've got a strong two-point defense. While their three-point defense has held up so far this year, I mentioned above why I don't expect that to continue—they give up a lot of looks from the outside. Early offense is key; there will be openings to launch from the outside right after M breaks the press, and they should take them—the going gets tougher when Texas is able to settle into their halfcourt defense.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 10.
The Wolverines have a decided shooting advantage and most of the players on this team have played against a Shaka Smart outfit before. As long as M doesn't give up a significant edge in turnovers or free throws, they should be able to generate more offense than the Longhorns.
UMHoops preview. MLive's Brendan Quinn on the importance of this upcoming two-game stretch against Texas and UCLA.