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Game preview: North Florida vs Michigan

A preview of tonight’s matchup at 7:30 p.m. from the Crisler Center.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan vs Minnesota Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Start time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Crisler Center

Television: Big Ten Network-plus

Opposing team: North Florida (0-1)

What to know

Michigan will take the court for the first regular season game of the 2017-18 campaign on Saturday night against North Florida, who just played down the road the night before.

The Ospreys opened the regular season by heading to East Lansing where Michigan State awaited them. After a hot start from UNF, the Spartans went on to cruise to a 98-66 victory.

UNF’s coach Matthew Driscoll has entered his ninth season of coaching the program, and is the coach who took part in the team’s first Division I season when they went to the NCAA’s First Four in 2014-15. He has won the Atlantic Sun Conference title two of the past three seasons.

This season, however, could be a rebuild for the Ospreys. They lost three starters from last year’s team, including the back-to-back Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 6-foot-1 guard Dallas Moore. While Florida Gulf Coast was picked as the favorite this year for the conference, UNF did receive votes.

It goes without question that Driscoll like to shoot the 3-pointer as 41.7 percent of the teams shots a year ago were from beyond the arc (693 attempted triples). The main problem is, over 50 percent of that production is no longer with the program.

The Ospreys have also shown a lot of zone defenses in the past, which is why they have struggled on the defensive glass. It doesn’t help that on offense, they were 222nd in the country on offensive efficiency a season ago, turning the ball over themselves. UNF also has stopped the 3-point shot in the past as a program, landing in the top-25 in 3-point prevention since 2010.

Against MSU, junior college transfer guard Ivan Gandia-Rosa led the team in scoring with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting in 34 minutes. The other two UNF players to finish in double figures were Wajid Aminu, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, who totaled 10 points but was just 2-for-12 from the field in 30 minutes, while guard Garrett Sams scored 13 points in 29 minutes.

What to expect

· Someone has to win the battle beyond the arc. Both teams are losing the key components to scoring a season ago, but the coach’s systems remain. There will be a lot of triples going up, it’ll be about which team makes more.

· Rebounding is something Michigan struggled with a season ago and it won’t get any easier with D.J. Wilson heading to the NBA. Moritz Wagner, Jon Teske and Austin Davis won’t have their most difficult challenge tonight, but it should be an eye opener to where they are at.

· Can Michigan handle the guards that UNF will throw at them? With Jaaron Simmons and Zavier Simpson both still inexperienced for different reasons, they will be called upon to stop the scoring tonight (Gandia-Rosa and Sams) around the perimeter.