(Editors note, Z: Welcome Byronkewel to the crew. He will be pitching in basketball content for the site over the next few months, and he also writes at a couple other SBN sites, so show him some love Brewers)
The Michigan Wolverines play their first Big Ten home game against an unusually good Iowa Hawkeye team. The Wolverines have dominated this series in that last 5 seasons, winning nine of the last 12 meetings with the Hawkeyes and Michigan hasn't lost to Iowa on its home court since the 2007-08 season. Both teams look to show off their respective offenses, with Michigan's Trey Burke leading the Wolverine backcourt and Iowa's Aaron White leading the Hawkeye frontcourt. The scoring attack of Michigan's starting five should be too much for Iowa to handle in what looks to be a manageable win for the Wolverines -- assuming they pick up their recently lacking interior defense.
When: Sunday, January 6, 2013, 12 PM ET
Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Watch: Big Ten Network
No injuries to report.
F Aaron White (13.7 PPG-6.4 RPG) leads the Hawkeye frontcourt, with F Melsahn Basabe (6.6 PPG-4.1 RPG), C Adam Woodbury (6.4 PPG-5.4 RPG) and F Zach McCabe (5.6 PPG-4 RPG) closely behind.
Weakness: Outside Shooting
A typical problem for frontcourt orientated teams, the Iowa Hawkeyes struggle when shooting outside of the paint. Iowa has shot close to only 31% outside of the arc, and only 18% (3 for 17) in their loss to Indiana. Also in that game the Hawkeyes shot 7 for 34, 21%, outside the paint and conducted most of their offense inside shooting 14 for 29 inside the paint (48%). On the year, Iowa has conducted most of their offense inside, scoring 432 of their 1065 total points this year inside the paint, whereas they have only 126 points in 2 point jumpers outside the paint and 243 points in 3-pointers.
G Josh Bartelstein (Ankle)
F Jon Horford (Knee)
The Michigan Wolverines posses one of the best backcourts in the nation, led by G Trey Burke (18.1 PPG-7.2 APG) who is followed by G Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.2 PPG-5 RPG) and G Nik Stauskas (13.6 PPG-3.2 RPG). This trio alone has contributed 57% of Michigan's offense in the Wolverines last 5 games. The starting backcourt also makes the most three's, shooting 45% (93 for 207) vs. the rest of the team's combined 36% 3 point percentage.
Weakness: Interior Defense
It may seem like the Michigan defense is impenetrable, though the Wolverine's defense in the paint could become a problem for the Maize and Blue. Over the course of the Wolverine's last five games, Michigan has let less than mediocre frontcourts score with ease in the paint, hitting close to 52% inside. In that five game span, teams were hitting 54 of 103 shots inside and hitting only 55 of 176 outside so the area of concern for Michigan isn't how accurately teams are hitting inside the paint, rather how many times teams will try to score inside the paint.
Player Trending Up: F Glenn Robinson III
Robinson has been a great addition to the Michigan frontcourt, leading the bigmen in scoring, by averaging 11.9 PPG and 5.9 RPG. In Robinson's last three games, he has averaged 14.3 PPG and 1.3 SPG and looks to keep his hot streak going against Iowa.
Player Trending Down: F Mitch McGary
McGary may be considered to be a disappointiment, being ranked 27th overall in the ESPNU 100, though you've got to give him a break. He is only a freshmen. McGary is averaging 5.6 PPG and 5.8 RPG for playing only 15 minutes per game. Do the math: 30 minutes per game would mean McGary would be a double-double player with 11.2 PPG-11.6, though in his short playing time he also averages 2.3 personal fouls and 1.3 turnovers which does not bode well for playing more minutes.
Michigan may be surprised that the Iowa team they are playing isn't the same one from years past and will certainly put up more of a fight than Central or Eastern Michigan. In the Wolverines last five games, Michigan has limited opponents to only 38% accuracy outside the paint and only 30% outside the arc, which does not couple well with Iowa's .308 3-point shooting percentage. Michigan must limit how many shots Iowa is taking inside the paint and force them to take contested shots outside if Michigan is going to keep the Iowa offense at bay. The Wolverine's interior offense has been hot over the last 5 games, hitting 66% percent inside, so look for Michigan to dominate in the paint, as they usually do.