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Purdue Fort Wayne vs. Michigan Basketball Preview: The final formality

Not much to fear from the Mastodons.

NCAA Basketball: Southern Utah at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines bounced back in a big way, crushing Southern Utah in one of their most complete performances of the season after a frustrating loss against Minnesota. There is still a ton of work to be done, including next week against UCF, but at least there is reason to think this team can still be great.

Tuesday brings about the last freebie of the year, with Purdue Fort Wayne (apparently the school has move away from the “IPFW” branding) coming in as the worst ranked team on the schedule. (Side note: I keep wanting to call them the Mad Ants, but Mastodons is even better and gives the Thunderbirds a good run for their money.) Kenpom’s No. 274 squad should not provide much resistance in Ann Arbor.

Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (5-5) vs. Michigan Wolverines (7-4)

Date & Time: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 7:00 p.m. ET
Television/Streaming: BTN
Location: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: MICH -24, O/U 141

The Horizon Leaguers sit near the bottom of the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, two-point defense, three-point defense, and even opposing free throw percentage. There is really nothing to like about this team’s resistance, and Michigan should be able to get nearly any shot it wants against Fort Wayne. As always, hard to see how players like Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate do not absolutely clean up against this mid-major squad.

On offense, the Mastodons look slightly better, though there really is not much of a threat from deep. The Wolverines were very good against Southern Utah, shutting down the important John Knight and forcing him into six turnovers. Superior athleticism and sound fundamentals should once again get the job done. Kind of a boring analysis, but with all due respect to the visitors, no one on this roster should cause much concern.

Matchup Highlights

The bigs will once against have their way, but it would be great to see the guards continue to step up. DeVante Jones has looked like a different player his last two games, and getting him into stride would be huge for Big Ten play. Meanwhile, Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin have both shown glimpses this season, and giving the freshmen an extended look on Tuesday makes a ton of sense.

Much of the improvement of Jones is also tied to his presence on defense. If the point guard can hold his own next to Eli Brooks, this will solve many of Michigan’s earlier struggles that appeared in each of the four losses. Fort Wayne is not exactly a huge test, but consistently solid defensive effort (without fouling) is something that will translate to higher stakes games later this season.