So, the obvious first question is: what happened to Wisconsin against Indiana on Tuesday that helped the Hoosiers pull the upset, and can Michigan take anything away from that game that might help them pull off the upset Saturday?
The Badgers forgot (refused?) to play defense. Wisconsin allowed 1.17 points-per-possession Tuesday -- it's highest mark of the season. And the type of looks Indiana got would have been infuriating to any coach. We knew the Badgers were more offensively-focused this year, but getting beaten down court in transition and losing opponents on easy backdoor cuts was quite a shocking sight. In addition, the promising freshmen looked subpar in their first truly hostile environment, and Wisconsin's outside shooting regressed to the mean a bit.
Going forward, for Michigan the formula should be to push the tempo and get the guards in foul trouble. Then watch as the painted area opens up to you. I don't know if Derrick Walton can break it down as well as Yogi Ferrell did. But if he does, a guy like Glenn Robinson III could have a field day on the receiving end if he cuts and slashes effectively. I would also give an advantage to a team that can be physical with the Badgers and push them around a bit.
What kind of matchup problems does Sam Dekker present to opposing teams, and how has his role on the team changed in his second year on campus?
Dekker has great body control and moves well in space on the court, whether in a half-court setting or transition. This is how he gets points near the rim primarily. Dekker also has good vision as a passer. With his size, he can fill it up from deep and post up, which can be problematic if an opponent doesn't quite have the right personnel. Dekker's role on the team is a bit different this year in that UW needs him to play "big" at the 4. Subsequently, even since the beginning of the year, Dekker has greatly improved as a rebounder. Beyond that, he's needed as a leader and the most dependable scorer night in and night out. But we've seen against Iowa and now Indiana that Dekker can be too passive for long stretches. I've spent a few nights shaking my head watching the likes of Zach McCabe keep Dekker at bay on the perimeter.
I haven't had a chance to watch Wisconsin play for any extended period of time yet this year, but I keep reading that the team is playing less of that infuriating brand of basketball that has driven Big Ten fans mad for years. How much of this is true, and what are the differences this year?
I do agree that the team is more fun to watch than they have been in recent years, but starting 16-1 might be a bigger reason for that than any dramatic change in pace. Yes, Wisconsin is running a bit faster on offense and allowing some quicker scores defensively. However, the perception may stem from how well the Badgers move the ball this season. You rarely see those "Jordan Taylor dribbles for the last 10 seconds and fires a 3-pointer"-type possessions. It seems like getting the ball to the post is more of a strength for this group, and that obviously opens up the court a bit. In other words, there is a lot more action in each possession, even if on average Wisconsin possessions aren't much shorter than usually.
Michigan is without Mitch McGary, but has found success with a combination of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford. Will Wisconsin look to exploit the mismatch at the five, and what type of offensive game does Frank Kaminsky bring to the Badger offense?
Part of the surprise at Kaminsky's success this season has been that he is not shy in the post at all offensively. I mean, to score 43 points in one game, you've got be the type to call for the ball. So he is a willing post scorer even though he is destructive (47.7%) from 3-point land as well. Neither Morgan nor Horford are as athletic as Noah Vonleh, so I think Kaminsky will have an advantage probably on both ends. The luxury for the Wolverines will be that when Frank gets fatigued, they can run another big fresh body at him and his much smaller backups. Nigel Hayes (a load at 6'7") and Duje Dukan (a thin, hard-to-believe 6'9") are the first two forwards off Bo Ryan's bench.
What do you think are the keys to a Michigan upset and do you think the game is closer or more lopsided than the eight point win Kenpom predicts?
It's a unique one to pick because frankly, no one knows how well this Wisconsin team will respond to a loss. My gut tells me the Badgers are 5-10 points better than UM in Madison, so I think KenPom nails it. But if they didn't get some of the issues from Indiana resolved, it could be trouble.
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