#20 Michigan (24-11, 10-8 B1G) vs
#24 Oklahoma State (20-13, 9-9 B12)
The BTT Should've Been Here Arena
|WHEN||12:15 pm ET, Friday|
Michigan -1 (KenPom)
Michigan -2.5 (Vegas)
PBP: Jim Nantz
Analyst: Bill Raftery & Grant Hill
Right: Stare into the abyss that is Pistol Pete's face.
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There's blissfully little to discuss in this section. I've closed the Bracket Matrix tab for the first time in weeks, if not months. The team has safely arrived in Indianapolis. Michigan is not dealing with any significant injuries.
Win The Game.
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||1||Jawun Evans||So.||6'1, 185||70||33||117||No|
|Speedy, ball-dominant PG. Streaky outside shooter, at best going to rim.|
|G||13||Phil Forte||Sr.||5'11, 195||78||16||130||Not At All|
|Three-point sharpshooter with range well beyond the arc.|
|G||30||Jeffrey Carroll||Jr.||6'6, 215||73||23||129||Not At All|
|Do-it-all wing scores efficiently inside and out. Good rebounder.|
|F||23||Leyton Hammonds||Sr.||6'8, 215||57||16||130||No|
|Stretch four shooting 34% from three.|
|F||41||Mitchell Solomon||Jr.||6'9, 245||50||16||115||Very|
|Great offensive rebounder, good rim protector, foul-prone. Gets easy buckets.|
|F||12||Cameron McGriff||Fr.||6'7, 210||39||15||103||Yes|
|TO-prone, iffy-shooting bit player salvages ORtg with sky-high FT rate.|
|G||0||Brandon Averette||Fr.||5'11, 175||37||21||95||No|
|Efficient scorer on low usage, but turnovers a consistent problem.|
|G||24||Davon Dillard||So.||6'5, 215||24||21||109||Not At All|
|Glue guy who can score. Weakness is—surprise!—turnovers.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
As Brian covered earlier this week, Oklahoma State plays a very different brand of basketball than the one Big Ten fans are used to watching:
27% of their shots are classified by hoop-math as "transition"—ie, within the first ten seconds of the Shot clock. That's a full 50% more than Michigan (18%) and 24th nationally. A lot of the teams in front of them are very bad low majors trying anything to disguise their halfcourt offenses; the only more transition-oriented teams in the tournament are Creighton, UCLA, Kentucky, and Arkansas.
The Cowboys are going to push the tempo, jack up some shots that would give John Beilein hives, crash the boards with aplomb, and look to feed into that transition offense by playing high-risk, aggressive defense.
The maestro of KenPom's top-ranked offense is point guard Jawun Evans, a lightning-quick slasher who uses a third of OSU's possessions with high efficiency. His game is predicated on getting into the lane and it's very tough to keep him out of there. While he's not an elite finisher at the rim, he hits some tough shots, including the floater, and he's a good free-throw shooter who gets to the line frequently. He's not necessarily a score-first player, though, as his drive-and-kick ability generates a ton of offense for others; he's third nationally in assist rate and he takes good care of the ball. Evans runs hot-and-cold with his outside shot; he's made 38% of his threes this season but just 29% in Big 12 play.
Evans may struggle on the other end of the floor; after watching the most recent Kansas game on the YouTubes, I think he'll have trouble navigating Michigan's high screens—he slammed into a few against Frank Mason, and while Mason is one of the best players in the country, Derrick Walton has been playing at a comparable level. Iowa State's Monte Morris was very productive and efficient in three wins against OSU this year, too.
Walton wants to take this matchup, and it looks like he'll get it:
MAAR says he'll be tasked with Phil Forte while Derrick Walton will guard Jawun Evans
— Orion Sang (@orion_sang) March 16, 2017
If Evans' speed gives Walton trouble, I wouldn't be surprised to see that flip at some point. Regardless, both players will have important matchups. 5'11" shooting guard Phil Forte is a 43% three-point shooter with range that extends well beyond the arc. He's mostly a catch-and-shoot guy but he can also fire off the bounce. As you might expect, he's not nearly as effective inside the arc; Michigan will look to run him off the line and test his midrange game. Letting him step into an open 18-footer is better than contesting hard and risking a foul; he's an incredible 77-for-81 on free throws this year.
Wing Jeffrey Carroll is a remarkably effective scorer; he's posted 59/43/80 (2P%/3P%/FT%) shooting splits this season with a high FT rate. He's also a good rebounder on both ends. He doesn't create a ton of shots on his own, but he's lethal at finishing off kickouts or in transition; his shot chart, via UMHoops, shows a player with a very efficient game:
Carroll can be held down by a disciplined defense; he'll draw Michigan's best defender in Zak Irvin. If Irvin can match Carroll's production, the Wolverines will be in good shape.
Stretch four Leyton Hammonds attempts almost precisely half his shots from beyond the arc and makes them at an alright, not great 34% clip. He can go off, though; he's had three outings with 18+ points in the last seven games. He and Carroll are OSU's best defensive rebounders; at 6'8", 215, he'll slide to the five on occasion.
Center Mitchell Solomon is the #3 offensive rebounder in the country, which is how he gets a large chunk of his points; over 40% of his shots at the rim are putbacks, per hoop-math. Much of the rest is created by Evans. He's very much a finisher, not a creator; even with those putbacks his FG% barely scrapes above 50. He's a solid shot-blocker on the other end of the floor.
The Cowboys have whittled their rotation down to eight for the stretch run. Forward Cameron McGriff is a very low-usage player with a strange offensive profile; he hasn't been efficient at all from the field, but his takes more free throws than field goals and shoots 75% at the line. His knack for drawing contact helps cover for an elevated turnover rate. Another 5'11" guard, Brandon Averette, is a drive-first player like Evans, but not nearly as effective; turnovers are an issue for him, too. The reserve to watch is wing Davon Dillard, an excellent rebounder who makes 53% of his twos and 48% of his threes; he'd probably get more time if not for, believe it or not, turnover issues.
Oklahoma State's season, like Michigan's, had a mid-year turnaround. Outside of an authoritative road win at Wichita State, they got off to a rough start, going 10-8 and 0-6 in the Big 12. Then they won nine of their next ten, losing only to Baylor and knocking off West Virginia on the road. The Cowboys aren't riding the same momentum as the Wolverines heading into the tourney, however. They lost each of their last three: regular-season games against Iowa State and Kansas and the conference tournament opener against ISU.
OSU finished the season 3-10 against KenPom top 30 teams.
Four Factors explanation
OSU's national-best offense thrives because of fast breaks, great outside shooting (40.3 3P%, #8 nationally), and generating a ton of second chances. They shoot an even 50.0% inside the arc and have a propensity for turning it over; Michigan's run-them-off-the-line strategy shouldn't change for this one.
In part because they go all-out for turnovers to feed the transition offense, OSU's defense is terrible for a major-conference team. They give up a lot of easy buckets inside the arc, especially in transition; sending 2-3 guys to the offensive boards opens up the fast break for opponents. They're not good in the halfcourt, either. They commit a ton of fouls while gambling for steals. I like Walton's chances of having a huge game.
Stick to shooters. OSU's offense is predicated on Evans' ability to collapse the defense. Michigan must do their best not to take the bait. While Evans is going to get into the paint, Michigan shouldn't send too much help his way. Evans has relatively efficient midrange game but isn't great at the rim:
I'd much rather see Michigan cede the occasional layup than over-help and let Forte, Carroll, and Hammonds fire up catch-and-shoot threes. Evans gets his in pretty much every OSU game; they're dangerous when the secondary scorers are stepping up in a big way.
Play your speed. This is the fastest-paced team Michigan has faced in quite some time. They must resist the temptation to fire up too many early-clock shots, especially since OSU will look to run off just about anything—even made shots. Once the Cowboys are set, M needs to settle into their normal offense and make sure they get back as soon as a shot goes up. That said, there should be plenty of opportunites for the Wolverines to get into transition themselves. OSU cedes a lot of fast break chances by aggressively crashing the glass and they're more turnover-prone than most Big Ten squads. Michigan has been great at pushing the pace off defensive rebounds, especially those grabbed by either DJ Wilson (whose outlets have been excellent) or Derrick Walton (who can just turn and go).
Box out. Another reason not to over-help: OSU is going to send bodies at the boards. The main way I could see Michigan losing this one is if they get overwhelmed on second-chance opportunites. The big men are a major part of this—here's my obligatory "please don't pick up cheap fouls, Moe Wagner"—but they're not alone: Irvin (who much pick up Carroll) and Walton (who will be around the rim a lot after Evans drives) are going to have to be strong on the boards as well.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 1.
The Wolverines have done a great job of running opponents off the three-point line. That, coupled with Michigan's killer transition offense, should make the difference against a team that has a comparable offense but is at a decided disadvatage on defense.
UMHoops preview and personnel report. Quinn on the unlikely way Michigan landed Moe Wagner:
On the other side of the world, Yenal Kahraman assumed the email had been ignored or deleted. He knew it was a long shot anyway. He'd only met Beilein years earlier and figured the Michigan coach received tips on possible recruits en masse. No big deal, Kahraman thought, it was worth a shot.
But Beilein backtracked through his emails one day. He clicked Kahraman's. There was a video attached. It was a little over 5 minutes long. Beilein leaned in, watched a little closer.