Who: Charlotte 49ers (1-3)
When: Thursday, November 26th, at 9:30 p.m. ET (AXS TV - Click for Listing)
Where: Imperial Arena -- Paradise Island, Bahamas
Spread: Vegas: -13.5 | KenPom: W, 82-68 (90% WP)
It's Thanksgiving, Michigan is in the consolation side of the Battle 4 Atlantis bracket, and Michigan faces Charlotte -- 275th on KenPom -- on AXS TV. Not much of a stage tonight.
Charlotte has a 1-3 record, and its one win was a 77-68 victory over Furman (No. 212 on KenPom). Though their 83-70 loss to Syracuse yesterday was more than understandable, the 49ers also have suffered double-digit losses to No. 231 Elon and No. 208 East Carolina. Yes, that's the same Elon team that Michigan beat by 20 points this season.
Charlotte isn't very good. This isn't the team that beat Michigan in 2013-14.
Offensively, Charlotte really struggles to shoot the ball. The 49ers have made only 43.1 percent of their twos (272nd) and 32.9 percent of their threes (182nd) for a 44.9 eFG% (269th). Though they are average from behind the three-point line, the 49ers don't shoot from there often as less than 30 percent of their field-goal attempts are from deep. They seem to force the ball inside with dribble penetration despite their lack of success. This is further evidenced by the fact that only 44.7 percent of their made field goals are assisted, which is the 291st-best assist rate. Charlotte isn't great in any other offensive area, but they do a decent job holding onto the basketball (16.6 turnover rate) and going after their own misses (33.5 OR%). Also, when Charlotte has competed against man defenses, their dribble penetration has led to frequent trips to the charity stripe, posting free-throw rates that are over 50 percent in both of those games (52.3 vs. Elon and 51.7 vs. Furman).
Charlotte likes to push the pace -- 35th in adjusted tempo -- and that has pros and cons defensively. The benefit for Charlotte is that offenses can get caught up in the hectic pace and become careless with the basketball. The 49ers have forced turnovers on 22.4 percent of their defensive possessions, which is 37th in the nation. However, the drawback is that their pace provides opponents with plenty of open shots. Charlotte has allowed offenses to convert 52.3 percent of their twos (254th) and a 41.3 percent of their threes (318th). Also, Charlotte's lack of size -- 310th in KenPom's effective height metric -- has hurt them on the defensive glass. Teams have boarded 35.6 percent of their misses.
Here is a quick rundown of the 49ers that Michigan will see tonight:
Andrien White: White is a 6-foot-3 freshman that is Charlotte's leading scorer through four games (13.3 PPG). He's a threat from the three-point line (41.2 3P%) but not so much from inside the arc. He's finished only 42.9 percent of his twos and doesn't get to the free-throw line often. Also, White doesn't create much offense for others -- three assists in only four games -- and can be a bit reckless with the basketball -- two turnovers per game. However, opponents need to be careful with the ball when they dribble in front of him. White has tallied 11 steals total in four games and at least two steals in each one.
Braxton Ogbueze: Ogbueze is a 6-foot-1 redshirt junior that transferred to Charlotte from Florida after his freshman season. Last season was his first on the court with the 49ers, during which he averaged 9.6 PPG and proved to be a reliable three-point shooter. This season, Ogbueze has picked up where he left off, having drained 10 of his first 24 triples (41.7 pct.). However, he's not very effective once he is inside the three-point line, where he made only 38.7 percent of his shots last season and only 33.3 percent this year. The key to limiting Ogbueze's offensive impact is to run him off the three-point line.
Bernard Sullivan: Sullivan is a 6-foot-8 fifth-year senior who transferred to Charlotte from Clemson after his sophomore season. Sullivan is Charlotte's third-leading scorer (11.5 PPG), but he inefficient in the interior and non-existent on the perimeter. He's made only 18-of-41 twos (43.9 pct.) and isn't a strong free-throw shooter when he gets to the line (55.6 FT%). Where Sullivan may have a strong impact will be on the defensive end, where he is a solid rebounder and great shot-blocker -- five blocks in four games.
Joseph Uchebo: Uchebo is a 6-foot-10 senior center who spent the last two seasons at Pittsburgh before transferring to Charlotte. Uchebo doesn't start, averaging only 18.5 MPG off the bench, but he likely is Charlotte's best interior player. Offensively, he has scored 36 points and made 15-of-23 twos (65.2 pct.) in his last three games, which includes a team-best 16 points that he posted in 27 minutes against Syracuse yesterday. Uchebo also is an excellent rebounder (19.1 OR%, 20.8 DR%) and shot-blocker (5.7 pct.).
Anthony Vanhook: Vanhook is a 6-foot-4 junior forward, but his biggest contribution has been passing the ball. In the three games he has played, he dished out 11 assists, though eight of those were in one game. Nonetheless, his assist-to-turnover ratio is 11:2. Vanhook also helps in other areas, such as offensive rebounding (8.8 pct.), blocking shots (2.8 pct.), and drawing fouls on the opponent (73.7 FTR). However, this is mitigated by the fact that he isn't a very good shooter. He's not a threat from the outside, and he's made only 44.4 percent of his two-pointers and 57.1 percent of his free throws this year.
Jon Davis: Davis is a 6-foot-3 freshman guard, who has had two starts this season and averaged 26.3 MPG. It's somewhat of a surprise that Davis has earned so much playing time. He provides little value on offense -- his ORtg is 90.4 -- and is barely used (13.7 usg%). However, he did just drop nine points in 23 minutes against Syracuse yesterday.
Benas Griciunas: Griciunas is a seven-foot redshirt sophomore that transferred from Auburn and will start at center for Charlotte. However, despite being a starter, Griciunas does not play many minutes for the 49ers, having averaged only 10.0 MPG through the first four games. This likely is because he really struggles in all areas. He's made only 35.7 percent of his shots and coughs up the basketball almost a quarter of the time when it is in his hands. And he's not a good enough rebounder to compensate for his lack of offense.
Take Care of the Basketball: Charlotte's defense is predicated solely on forcing turnovers. If the 49ers can't do that, Michigan should have open looks all night long.
Keep Uchebo Off the Glass: Uchebo is Charlotte's best player and can be a force in the interior. Though Uchebo finishes well around the rim, he's at his best when he's snagging rebounds on both ends. Ricky Doyle and Michigan's centers must box him out.
Don't Ruin Thanksgiving: Please.
Michigan snaps its losing streak and celebrates Thanksgiving in a good mood.
Michigan 84, Charlotte 63