On Wednesday, the Michigan Wolverines crushed the Pittsburgh Panthers to move on to the championship game of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. While Pitt is a Power Six squad with some name value, the narratives are a lot spicier for Thursday’s contest against Arizona State, specifically with transfer Frankie Collins set to face his old team.
The Sun Devils beat VCU in the first round on Wednesday to set up the clash in the finals. Arizona State sits 78th on Kenpom and represents a chance for Michigan’s best victory on the young season. While the Wolverines enjoyed a blowout win on Wednesday, the other semifinal matchup was tied with under two minutes left, so the momentum (and fatigue) may favor the maize and blue.
Note: this preview will be a little lighter for a couple reasons. Truthfully, the first is due the quick turnaround, with tournaments not leaving a lot of time between games. There is also not a whole lot new to say about Michigan from either yesterday’s preview or David’s game recap. The bigger takeaway is that the second-half outburst against Pitt is what this team can look like when everything is going right, and that is a scary high ceiling.
No. 20 Michigan Wolverines (3-0) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1)
Date & Time: Thursday, Nov. 17, 9:30 p.m. (ish)
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
A full 40 minutes required
Arizona State opened up the season with three lower-level opponents before heading to Brooklyn, but unfortunately did not escape unblemished. An overtime loss to past acquaintance Texas Southern (outside the Kenpom top 200) is a tough way to start the season for the Sun Devils as they try to bounce back from a pair of below-average seasons the last two years.
The loss to Texas Southern ended with Collins getting stripped in transition, though the former Wolverine had a strong game with 23 points to lead the team and followed that up with 15 on Wednesday. He is already looking like a difference-maker for the Sun Devils and seems to have benefitted from the move out west. Collins is averaging 16 points, 4.8 assists, and 5.0 rebounds on the season, with the first two leading the team.
While the Sun Devils should offer some resistance on defense (35th per Kenpom), the offense has really been struggling. Three of the four games have seen the team post an eFG of under 41 percent, including against VCU. If Michigan can put up another sound defensive performance like it did to close out Pitt, it is hard to see Arizona State being able to keep up with the Wolverines’ scoring.