The Michigan Wolverines open up a new week of basketball, coming in at No. 20 in the AP rankings after dropping two losses last week. They are set to host the Tarleton State Texans at Crisler as they return from their weekend in Las Vegas.
While the Wolverines left Vegas 1-1 in the Roman Main Event, they’ll have to dust off their early-season mishaps to prepare for their final game in November.
Tarleton will visit Ann Arbor in two days, but tonight it will be in North Dakota to take on NDSU. Of the Texans’ first seven games of the season, six of them are on the road. They’ll be searching for a true road win over the next seven days, and their first chance could be in Fargo. The Texans are currently 1-3 on the season, and are coming off a win at home against Paul Quinn by a score of 69-42.
The Maize and Blue entered this season with a lot of talent and high expectations. While many didn’t expect them to start the way they have, it’s evident this young Wolverine team has a lot of growing to do. Michigan has a ton of talent among the individual, but determining its identity as a group is still a work in progress. Luckily there is nothing but time for this team to figure everything out, and it definitely helps they will be guided by Juwan Howard.
Michigan is too talented to let early hiccups disrupt its season goals. The Wolverines will look to regroup against the Texans on Wednesday night and should be able to bounce back with a win. After hosting Tarleton State, the Wolverines will have a week off before heading to Chapel Hill for the Big Ten-ACC challenge against UNC. This should give the Wolverines ample time to prepare for that game and sort some things out.
Tarleton State averages 58 points per game while allowing their opponents 64.3 points per game. They shoot 41.6 percent from the floor and 27.1 percent from beyond the arc. The Texans are the 220th ranked team on KenPom. They rank fourth amongst their WAC counterparts in turnovers forced, collecting 63 so far this season. They average 7.5 steals per game.
Tarleton State is led by senior guard Montre Gipson, the leading scorer averaging 15.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG. In road games so far this season, the Texas native averages 16.7 PPG off 48.7 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from three. He is followed by another senior guard, Tahj Small, who averages 11.8 PPG and shoots 50 percent from the floor. He leads the team in rebounds, collecting 6.5 on average per game.
A sophomore guard, Shamir Bogues, has emerged as another contributor to the Texans’ offensive effort. He has played in three games so far this season and averages 8.0 PPG off 43.3 percent shooting from the floor and 33.3 percent from three.
The Texans round out their starters with sophomore guard Freddy Hicks and senior guard Shakur Daniel. Hicks averages 7.3 PPG and 4.3 rebounds on 26.5 percent shooting from the floor and 30.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Daniel averages 6.5 PPG and 3.8 rebounds off 40 percent shooting from the floor and 40 percent from three.
The Texans start five guards and operate without a true center. Among their starters, the tallest reach 6-foot-6. Small, their leading rebounder, reaches is that height and weighs 195. They will have to play a fast-paced game, force turnovers and shoot at a high percentage if they want to keep the game competitive.
Michigan returns home after a rough go of it against Arizona yesterday. After falling to the Wildcats 80-62, the Wolverines still have some things to work out. They average 73.2 PPG while allowing opponents 66.6 PPG. In their two losses so far, the Wolverines struggled shooting from beyond the arc, shooting 20 percent against Seton Hall and 7.1 percent against Arizona. In total, they shoot 28.3 percent from three and 47.1 percent from the floor so far this season.
Michigan leads the Texans in every statistic besides points allowed and steals. Their main advantage lies in their ability to score and rebound.
Tarleton State faces a rough go of it with a combination of a heavy travel week and Michigan’s size. Should it control the pace of the game and find its own shooting rhythm, there is a chance the Texans could make things competitive. Michigan, on the other hand, has the advantage in pretty much every aspect of this game. The Wolverines are going to need to rely on their size to control the floor. They will also have to be wary of turnovers in this game, while finding their shots early. Once Michigan gets into a rhythm, they should have no issue in taking this game.
Michigan hosts Tarleton State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Ann Arbor.