clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Hoops Preview: Michigan vs. Nicholls State

The Wolverines look to get back on the winning track against the Nicholls State Colonels.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan (4-1) vs. Nicholls State (0-3)

Saturday November 29th, Crisler Center

4pm, BTN2

Michigan lost its first game of the season on Tuesday in an early season classic against a deep, experienced Villanova team in New York.  It was both a disappointing miss at a marquee non-conference win early in the season, and as encouraging a loss as you are likely to find given Michigan's extreme youth and furious second half comeback to turn a potential blowout loss into nailbiter.

Of course, losses are losses, and Michigan needs to quickly get back on the right track — doubly so when you factor in a visit from Syracuse scheduled for Tuesday.  Thus, Nicholls State enters the picture.

The Colonels are a welcome sight for Michigan.  This is a team that has been abjectly terrible in just about every statistical category three games into the season (NSU's Kenpom scouting report is a study in shades of red with two bits of green thanks to a penchant for forcing turnovers).  The Colonels also aren't very big, with 6-foot-10 sophmoreLiam Thomas being not only the tallest player on the team, but possibly the skinniest, weighing in at a light 195 lbs.  Caris LeVert from two years ago sees you, Liam.  He knows your pain.  Thanks to this and just two other players who stand 6-foot-7, NSU is woefully bad at rebounding, currently 340th in OR% and 345th in OR% allowed.  The 44.5% offensive rebounding rate that the Colonels are giving up is almost equal to the amount of offensive rebounds Michigan gave up to Oregon.  Think about watching that spread out over a few games.

Now, all of this could even out in the long term.  Nicholls State is only three games into its season.  Although it hasn't faced a parade of power teams yet.  UCLA is the only school near Michigan's level (34th on Kenpom) with Wake Forest sneaking in the top-100.  So yeah, Nicholls State is probably still going to be bad in a few weeks, like it was last year when it went 14-15.

We already mentioned stater Liam Thompson, who has the profile you'd expect from a big guy that weighs as much as a shooting guard.  High block rate and offensive rebounding rate, paired with a defensive rebounding rate that is no joke, less than half of Spike Albrechts.

In fact, only one starter even cracks double digits on the defensive glass, that is wing TJ Carpenter, a 6-foot-4 junior that is sporting an abysmal 30.9 eFG% after three games (3 of 20 from outside doesn't help).  His shooting should improve, but not enough to label him an efficient scorer.  Carpenter does lead the team in assist rate and he has a low turnover percentage, so shooting the ball is probably the best outcome if it gets into his hands.

Amin Torres is getting only 40% of available minutes, but has taken 15 three point attempts and hit seven.  Starter Luka Kamber (6-foot-7) is 4/9 on the season.  Those two look to be the only plausible three point threats.

Richie Lewis, a six-foot guard and Ja'Dante' "too many apostrophes" Frye, a 6-foot-4 guard, are the other players heavily in the rotation.

This just doesn't seem to be a good basketball team.  If Michigan doesn't blow the doors off the Colonels, hoo-boy, I'm not sure how to even finish that thought.  It would be bad, especially hours after the football game we are stuck with.

The Big Things:

- Yes, it would be nice to get dominating efforts from the big three.  No, Michigan probably doesn't need it to win, so just more encouraging signs of progress.  Walton deftly running the break, Irvin scoring in ways that aren't 22-foot-plus jump shots, and LeVert just continuing to do whatever he wants.

- That being said, this is the game where Michigan would hopefully get signs of life from Kam Chatman.  He has flashed a lot of skill with and without the ball, but offensively you can still see the high school kid in the college jersey.  He isn't confident with his shot just yet, and when he doesn't shoot it doesn't fall.  Time to break out of that slump.

- Ricky Doyle has the size to be a problem for Nicholls State.  Hell, Mark Donnal has the size to be a problem.  These two should be a big part of the gameplan.

Overall this is a game that Michigan should have packed away before the first halftime.  That would be nice to A) rest the starters, but more importantly it will give guys like MAAR, Aubrey Dawkins, and DJ Wilson a chance at some extended playing time against (nominally) college competition.  John Beilein has used all three off the bench thus far, and if that is going to continue it'll be important for them to get as much game experience in these contests as possible.

As for the final score, Kenpom predicts a 24-point Michigan win.  I'd take that.