Another Friday night, another exciting non-conference matchup for Michigan basketball! The Wolverines welcome their third severely overmatched opponent into Crisler Center of the young season, this time facing Houston Baptist, the 291st overall team per Kenpom. The schools have met twice prior, with big Michigan wins in 2013 and 2015.
For the maize and blue, this is the last game before the team heads to the Bahamas. The 2019 edition of the Battle 4 Atlantis features a strong group of schools, so this is the last tune-up game for a roster with a bunch of inexperienced players and a brand new head coach.
Houston Baptist should not provide much of a challenge on Friday night. The Huskies have lost all three of their games to open the year, including a drubbing by Texas Tech, and do not rank favorably in almost any stat. They rank in the bottom 50 in both two-point percentage and two-point percentage allowed, meaning this one could get ugly.
What to watch
Rotation games: Adrien Nunez has begun the season as a starter, but regardless of when Franz Wagner gets healthy, that is bound to change. The sophomore has just 13 total points on the year to go with some questionable defense, and while he should have a decent role in the rotation, his starting spot will be gone soon. Against Houston Baptist, expect to see increased usage from David DeJulius, as Michigan has loved the three-guard lineup this season.
Backup bigs: It is clear that Jon Teske will be a focal point of the Wolverines offense, and that means that his understudies are going to be important too. Colin Castleton is his direct replacement and has looked fine so far, but the more intriguing piece is Brandon Johns. As a stretch big, Johns has shown an ability to finish under the rim and also make himself known on defense, having racked up four blocks already.
Complete 40 minutes: On paper this one will not be close, and both sides will know that going in. Michigan’s biggest challenge will be focusing and playing a solid game from start to finish. An early season, Friday night contest against a small school may seem like a cakewalk, but the Wolverines have shown some carelessness early on with prevalent turnovers, surrendered offensive rebounds, and a huge lead almost given away in the opener. With the schedule about to ramp up in difficulty, it would be encouraging to see a complete effort.
All Wolverines from the tip, with clear mismatches on both ends of the floor. 85-65 Michigan.
Teams: Houston Baptist Huskies (0-3) at Michigan Wolverines (3-0)
Date: Friday, November 22, 2019
Location: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET