Last week, we saw the potential that the Wolverines have, beating North Carolina and Gonzaga. And on Tuesday, we saw what can happen when the shots aren’t falling, as they fell to #1 Louisville on the road. Credit the Cardinals defense, as they played tight on ball defense and contested nearly every Michigan shot. But at the same time, some stagnant offense corrupted by lack of ball movement made finding open looks even tougher. Time to turn it around in a home date with Iowa Friday night.
The injury bug has hit Iowa tough already this season. Redshirt sophomore Jack Nunge suffered a torn ACL earlier this season after beginning the season as a starter. Coach Fran McCaffery turned to senior guard Jordan Bohannon to replace him as a starter. But Bohannon is recovering from hip surgery he had in May and wasn't sure if he would be ready for the season. To add on, freshman C.J. Fredrick, who was making an immediate impact for the Hawkeyes, suffered a quadriceps injury which held him out Tuesday. It’s unclear at this time whether he’ll suit up for the contest Friday.
Friday presents the first big ten matchup of the season for both teams. The 6-2 Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off a 14-point win over Syracuse Tuesday. Early season losses to DePaul and San Diego State exploited the vulnerability of the Hawkeyes perimeter defense, allowing Depaul to shoot 55 percent from three and the Aztecs to shoot 46 percent from three. A win over #12 Texas Tech, however, proves the dangerous nature of this Iowa team when things are clicking, something Michigan wants to avoid at all costs.
What to Watch For:
It’s a bigs game: So often in this era of basketball, we hear the phrase “It’s a guards game” being thrown around. Through eight games this season though, these are two teams who have turned to their centers as scoring sources. For the maize and blue, it’s Jon Teske, who has displayed a developed post game and has not shied away from taking the three point shot. At 7-foot-1, he also has the ability to alter inside shots from opposing teams, whether it be guards slashing to the rack or big men going up for layups. On the other end, Luka Garza has been the focal point for Coach Fran McCaffery’s offense. The junior from D.C. is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per contest this season. Similarly to Teske, he too will step out and launch a three ball. It’s going to be fun to watch these two are battle it out all game long, whether it be down on the block or from behind the arc.
Move the rock: Tuesday was ugly, no denying that. It was a common theme among fans on social media that the performance reminded them of the Texas Tech game from last March. To me, the Michigan offense consisted of too much dribbling. Maybe guys failed to get open as Louisvlle pressured ball handlers all night long, I get it. It just seemed that quick ball movement in the Bahamas led to many open three pointers. Whether it be setting off ball screens or slips to the hoop, I think movement on offense can wear down this Iowa defense. In their two losses, they’ve been hurt from deep. If Michigan can get the ball skipping, it will be difficult for Iowa to rotate in a timely fashion in order to contest shots. I can see multiple Wolverines hitting multiple three pointers in this one.
Assert aggressiveness: I’d like to see Michigan take the ball to the hoop more and try to create their own looks. Zavier Simpson has the ability to get by most defenders before putting up his signature sky hook. Franz Wagner, at 6-foot-9, holds a height advantage over most of his defenders. He’s still getting back into true game form and it’s only a matter of time before we see what all the hype was truly about. Off the bench, David DeJulius has showcased electric quickness this season. His nasty jab step provides him with the option to shoot or blow past defenders and break down defenses. I think each of these three players can be more aggressive. This aggressive should create higher percentage looks for the Wolverines and create a balanced offensive attack.
Being back home will do a lot of good for the Wolverines. I think the offense finds itself and the Wolverines are able to control the pace most of the way. Michigan 78-64.
Teams: Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2) at #4 Michigan Wolverines (7-1)
Date: Friday, December 6, 2019
Location: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Time: 6:30 p.m. EST
Television/Streaming: FS1/Fox Sports Go