What to Expect: Michigan

  • 02/01/2014 10:41 am in

(Photo credit: Dustin Johnson, UMHoops.com)

Indiana will be back in Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon for a meeting with No. 10 and still unbeaten in the Big Ten Michigan in front of a national television audience.

The Wolverines are 16-4 overall and already have road wins at Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska and Minnesota. The game will be broadcast on CBS at 1 p.m. ET and on the IU radio network (Sirius 85, XM 85):

The 2013-2014 season for Michigan has already been quite the roller coaster ride.

It started with high hopes as the Wolverines returned three starters and four key bench players from a team that went to the national championship game last April. The optimism took a hit early as Michigan started 6-4, fell from the national rankings and lost Mitch McGary for the season.

But since losing McGary, who was never fully healthy when he did see the floor this season, the Wolverines have gone unbeaten and are the favorites to win the Big Ten. This surge in Ann Arbor has drawn the ire of some IU fans who have argued that Michigan is actually less experienced than the Hoosiers when you look at KenPom’s experience rankings. This experience rank uses eligibility class weighted by minutes played.

Statistics can always be manipulated to advance a certain argument and in this case, that’s exactly what has taken place. Here’s the returning production for both teams, with McGary excluded:


This is presented not as an explanation of Indiana’s struggles or as an explanation for Michigan’s success, but a true illustration of what each team returned rather than an experience stat that fails to take actual production into consideration.

As for the game, which we’ll get into more below, it’s one that the Wolverines are favored to win, but Michigan hasn’t won in Assembly Hall since Tom Crean’s first season, when it needed overtime to do so. Michigan isn’t going undefeated in the Big Ten, but this is certainly a win the Wolverines are hoping to grab in order to keep pace ahead of Michigan State, the main competition on the road to a Big Ten title.


Michigan State’s Gary Harris was the preseason Big Ten player of the year, but Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas is the league’s top player statistically as we near the halfway point of league play. Stauskas has an effective field goal percentage of 62.1, is hitting 80.2 percent of his free throws and is Michigan’s best player in terms of getting to the line with a free throw rate of 56.2. That latter stat is proof that Stauskas has grown from a guy who mostly spotted up as a freshman into someone who can also beat you off the dribble. He’s also Michigan’s leading assist man and is the primary reason the Wolverine big men are able to score efficiently off of ball screens.

Michigan’s perimeter oriented attack continues with sophomores Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III along with freshman point guard Derrick Walton. With his increased role following the departure of Tim Hardaway Jr., LeVert is one of the Big Ten’s most improved players. Michigan opponents have to honor Stauskas and Robinson III defensively and LeVert has been the primary beneficiary as he’s hitting 46.7 percent of his 2s and 38 percent of his 3s. He’s also a solid defender as he leads the Wolverines with a steal rate of 2.4 percent.

Robinson III has been a bit of a disappointment as his efficiency numbers have tumbled from where they were as a freshman as his usage has gone up. His overall numbers are still good as he’s hitting over 60 percent of his 2s, but his 3-point shooting percentage has dropped by six. Walton struggled early, but has turned it on as of late and is growing into a critical piece of Michigan’s offense. Walton is hitting 40 percent of his 3s and has an effective field goal percentage of 56.4, but his turnover rate (22.9) is an outlier on a team that rarely coughs it up.

In McGary’s absence, both senior Jordan Morgan and junior Jon Horford have stepped in and proved more than capable of filling a role. Morgan makes the most of his limited offensive opportunities (69.8 FG%) and is an underrated post defender despite standing just 6-foot-8. Horford also finishes his opportunities (61.1 percent on 2s) and cleans up the defensive glass very well (26.3 DR%).

Michigan really only plays eight guys and the other two are freshman Zak Irvin, who’s hitting 40.7 percent of his 3s and sophomore Spike Albrecht, who is hitting 43.7 percent from distance. For a team already stacked with potent offensive pieces, that’s quite a luxury to have coming off the bench.



One reason that Michigan may not be included as of right now on the list of teams capable of winning the national title is its defense. The Wolverines actually have a worse defense than IU in Big Ten play, but there’s no denying this is the league’s most explosive offensive team.

Michigan is scoring 1.185 points per possession in Big Ten games with an effective field goal percentage of 60.1, almost 15 percentage points higher than the Hoosiers. As we’ve written in almost every game preview, IU’s chances to keep this one close are going to depend a lot on offensive rebounding, getting to the foul line and turnovers. Michigan isn’t great on the defensive glass, but they keep teams off the foul line nearly as well as anyone in the conference and don’t turn it over.

The Wolverines also play one of the Big Ten’s slowest paces, but their efficiency in the halfcourt will be a major challenge for IU. Michigan is patient, spreads opponents out and uses ball screens to find high percentage looks. Taking perimeter quick shots and turning it over plays exactly into what Michigan wants Indiana to do, so the Hoosiers are best served working the ball around in the halfcourt and trying to get to the basket and the line.


Assembly Hall hasn’t been kind to Michigan, but the Wolverines enter Sunday’s game as a five-point favorite according to KenPom and a 5.5-point favorite according to Sagarin.

The Big Ten is a two-team race at the top with Michigan and Michigan State and the remaining schedule favors the Spartans slightly as Michigan still has a brutal four-game stretch that goes like this: at Iowa, at Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State.

For Indiana, NCAA tournament discussion isn’t on the table right now, but a red out, an electric crowd and the need for a win with a game at Minnesota looming next could propel the Hoosiers into an inspired effort in a building where they own a 46-5 record over the past three seasons.

Filed to:

  • Hoosier Hall

    Robinson on Stauskas, Sheehey on Levert, Vonleh on GR3. Forget the zone, stay man to man and take away the 3 ball. We WILL beat them on the boards but we’ve got to convert those second chances. We can win this!

  • JerryCT

    I politely disagree with your basic assignments although I am sure we will see this during the game. I never disagree w/o a reason so here it is:


    SR on Levert because he is too quick and shifty for SHeehey and SR is not strong enough to hold off Stauskas.

    I am tempted to put ” foul expendables” on Stauskas like TW, JH, DD, JH whose only jobs are to deny the ball and force him to work hard and drive it vs the 3pt shot. Sheehey and SR are not expendable

    Sheehey on GR3 because he runs the floor better than Stauskas

    I also like some trapping in this game even though we are not so good at it yet

    NV/HMP MUST hedge out on the ball screen and stop the dribble of Levert or Stauskas , he can let the others go .

    On Offense

    I am completely lost as to what CTC can do differently since we seem never to change. If it were me I would play Davis , Howard, AE alot and their job is to set multiple screens off the ball per possession to get other players in the offense instead of Yogi Yogi Yogi all the time.
    I do not consider UM a tough team and Davis nearly took the head off 2 NEB players last time out.

    Once they feel the contact I think they will be less aggressive on D as the game wears on

  • Hoosier Hall

    I can dig that. I just figured Stan on Stauskas because IMO, he is our best defender. Will and Stan are both pretty good at denying a guy though. I’ve mentioned it before but I love your idea of using Devin as an “expendable” guy who can foul and play extremely hard. Those kinds of guys really get in the heads of opponents sometimes and detract any kind of lane penetration. I truly believe our best offense for tomorrow will be:

    #1- pound it in to Noah
    #2- a combo of Yogi/Will/Stan penetrating, drawing fouls and shooting mid range shots while NV, TW and HMP crash the boards.

  • Alford Bailey

    I believe its a winnable game for IU. I think we can out tough them. NV is due for a dominate game on the inside. UM is due for a bad game and a loss. Our yo yo season was at a low point last game so we should bounce back.

  • Alford Bailey

    At Iowa State, at Duke and Arizona at home for UM. Compare this non conference schedule vs Ohio State non conference slate. Maybe why these programs are headed in different direction in B1G play?

  • Scooter

    When Crean figures out that Vonleh is a true PF and Plays HMP as an athletic 5 at the same time NV is on the floor, there will be a small glimmer of hope The season will turn around. Since CTC is stubborn and will make comments that Noah doesnt work hard enough for the ball while Yogi pounds the ball 50 times/possession, I am predicting more frustration. Michigan by 7.

    Let’s make sure no one takes a 3 from the corner and the offense stands around until 10 sec left on shot clock. While standing, maybe CBS can have an alertness meter on the screen to show if the team is improving in this area. Maybe they can flash a momentum meter too. I would say alertness and recognizing momentum in the game are

  • Gregory Spera

    It’s funny because it’s true!

  • Ole Man

    Al, you’re beating a dead horse. Remember, UM was 6-4 over that stretch.

  • Ole Man

    Alex; thanks for that first chart!

  • GaHoosier

    I was watching UM the other day and I noticed a few things about this team:
    First: They can FLATOUT shoot the ball.
    Second: Their defense, especially interior, is weak. They don’t move their feet well on D. Mostly they use their hands to defend.
    Third: They won’t be shaken by the atmosphere. Nick S. just seems like he enjoys the big stage. He is their best player and he is good enough to carry his team.
    Finally: They are beatable. Any team that relies so heavy on the outside shot is due for a poor shooting night.

    IU is not going to out-shoot UM (frankly they can’t out-shoot any team), but for IU to beat UM they must OUT-HUSTLE them every play.

  • JerryCT

    SR is indeed our best defender , no argument from me on that. He is also outscoring Vonleh in the last 2 games and 3 of the last 5. I really do not want him fouling out

  • Court Storming Hoosier

    IMO, IU will win if they score more points than Michigan.

  • ForeverIU

    Even if they are shooting well they are going to miss about half their shots. So hopefully our rebounding edge will deprive them of second chance points and will allow us more second chance points. Sounds like it will be IU the giant slayer tomorrow.

  • ForeverIU

    I take it you are not into moral victories. LOL!

  • ForeverIU

    I was curious and checked the dictionary meaning of “wolverine” and found this (moderator alert: the dictionary’s words not mine): “A solitary, burrowing carnivorous mammal of northern forest regions, related to the weasel and having a heavyset body, short legs, fur, and a bushy tail. Also called carcajou, glutton, skunk bear.” Compare to that classy French-sounding name of ours. Shouldn’t be too hard to beat, eh?

  • Court Storming Hoosier

    If Yogi (or everyone on the team except NV) does not take a 3 point shoot tomorrow, I will be extremely happy. Nothing worse than seeing a stat that is like 2-16 from the 3. That is 14 possessions where we could have tried another shot. In other words, this team needs to realize that it is not a good 3 point shooting team. Use those 14 possessions to attack the basket.

  • SCHoosier

    When UM’s offense is humming it’s a beautiful thing to see. Stauskas does it all this is year..deadly from 3 and FT line and will take it to the hole when he can. Lot of shooters as we know. Tough match ups for IU and if you play zone against these guys it could lead to quick trouble. IU has a knack for upsets at A-Hall..let’s hope that happens Sunday. Hoosiers are so erratic it could be a tough down to the wire game or they could get blown out if UM is hitting 3’s.

  • dssnyder1

    sometmes the truth is hard to swallow. Michigan’s young team is just better than IU at this point, the above chart proves that point. sadly for IU to win this game they will have to play a nearly flawless game while UM doesn’t have to bring their A game in order to go home with the win. it’s frustrating to admit that Michigan’s players handle the ball so much better than the Hoosiers and they actually have a half court game that IU can only envy

  • MillaRed

    Suddenly losing to Northwestern not looking so bad.

  • MillaRed

    Be careful or you might come off as “pomp.”

  • IU-Faithful

    I’m expecting a win tomorrow, all the conditions are right. We just lost a big lead on the road and committed almost 20 TO and lost by 5. You could tell that the team knew they should have had that one. They’ll play good against Michigan.

  • kbb247

    I agree with u on shortening the rotation, which probably knocks out Marlin and Hartman. More importantly you can’t have a lineup of HMP, Davis, Gordon, Etherington, and Marlin. We have to have scorers on the floor. We struggle as it is, and we can not put 3 guys on the floor at the same time that are not a threat.

  • IUJeff

    If Crean plays any zone against this team, it will be trouble for my TV.

  • HoosierFan76

    So, you’re saying that IU needs to only take the 3-pointers that are going to go in, and avoid taking the ones that will miss…sound advice. 😉

  • Court Storming Hoosier

    No, I am saying that we waste a lot of possessions by chucking up stupid 3s when we are an awful shooting team.. So far the only consistent 3 point shooter is NV. I hate seeing all of those wasted possessions ex post.

  • Made it just for you, sir.

  • Alford Bailey

    That 6-4 means about as much as the Bucks 13-0 start at this point. You just wait Ole Man, I’m gonna convince you competition is a good thing if its the last thing I do. LOL

  • Alford Bailey

    Not hard to understand his point. I would expect more out of an ITH Moderator than this type of smart a$$ comment.

  • Ole Man

    LOL, Alex. Thank you for a very hearty laugh!
    And I am more than happy to say that those facts by that writer are obviously wrong.

  • Ole Man

    LOL, Al. I agree with you for the most part. Just that this year, with this team, the weak schedule was a blessing.

  • Ole Man

    The stats on this are divided, at best.
    Could it be that OSU just doesn’t have the offense to carry it?
    To simply lay their recent slump on “bad scheduling” ignores too many other variables.
    BTW, they beat Wisc at Wisc today.

  • ForeverIU

    LOL, that will leave them dazed and confused!

  • SCHoosier

    Hey there was a smiley face..it was a joke!

  • HoosierFan76

    It really was just an attempt at humor, and nothing more than that…

  • HoosierFan76

    I knew what you meant – was just trying to add some levity. Guess I failed…

  • John Prichard

    100%.. I’m not that good with the written word. You said what was in my mind. Coach Crean is losing my confidence.

  • It was a joke. Settle down.

  • Alford Bailey

    Great. I love jokes. Dont think Court Stormer seen it that way, though. Seemed like the kind of comment we have been preached to not to make lately.

  • ForeverIU

    Dude, relax. I would bet Court Stormer has pretty thick skin; I mean he would have to be thick skinned to propose attempting only 2 three-pointers in the Michigan game, the ones that are destined to go in that is. LOL!

  • HoosierFan76

    If Court Storming Hoosier had a problem with it, I’d imagine that he might have indicated as such when he responded afterward. Since he didn’t, I think your assumption that he didn’t understand the comment might be flawed. Either way, I suggest that you let it go, as Alex and others have already advised. The intended nature of the comment has already been asked and answered.

  • It had a face at the end of it. Pretty cut and dry to me. If you have any further issue with it, email me.

  • Court Storming Hoosier

    Jesus guys, can’t we all just get along?


  • Benhyoung14

    So UM returns 45% and IU 25% of their team.. I just can’t see why they’re having such a better year than IU.

  • IUbriz

    Will need a great showing on D, control the boards and get UM in foul trouble to pull this out. These guys can do it, all the weaknesses of UM are IU’s strength, pull it out fellas!

  • David2020

    Good analysis.

    This definitely a trap game for Michigan.

    I’m apprehensive.

    Go Blue.

  • David2020

    Good game.

    See you in Ann Arbor on March 8th.