Battle In The Land Of The Lakes: #3 Michigan At Wisconsin
- CoachingJohn Beilein has won at every stop in his long career, and Michigan’s current freshman class—Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and Nik Stauskas, to name three—have hushed any doubts about his ability to recruit at a top level.Bo Ryan is one of the more underrated coaches in the country. In his previous 11 seasons in Madison, Wisconsin has never finished worse than fourth in the Big Ten and has advanced to the Sweet 16 five times (including one Elite Eight appearance). His style may be boring to some, but it is undeniably effective.
- OffenseMichigan’s offense is one of the best in country by nearly any metric you use, including points per possession, a stat in which the Wolverines rank first at 1.25. They have arguably the best backcourt in the country in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr.Wisconsin plays at a snail’s pace; other than three Big East teams, no major conference squad plays slower than the Badgers. They often run the shot clock down to single digits before shooting and they protect the ball better than any team in the country.
- DefenseThe defense hasn’t been elite, but since Michigan has only lost two games this season and gave up 56 points in one of those, you can’t say it has been costly. The Wolverines are vulnerable inside without starting center Jordan Morgan, who has an injured ankle.This is where Wisconsin makes its mark, ranking in the top 10 in the nation in defensive efficiency. Nothing comes easy against the Badgers, who play smart and physical on the defensive end.
- Bench DepthMichigan relies on its starters as much as nearly any team in the country, more so now with Morgan’s injury. McGary has been impressive of late coming off the bench for Jon Horford (Morgan’s replacement in the starting lineup).Ryan doesn’t give many minutes to his bench, but he’s got two players shooting at least 40 percent from three at his disposal in Sam Dekker and George Marshall.
As is the case with most Wisconsin games, the opponent will want to play at a much faster pace than the Badgers. Winning at the Kohl Center is extremely difficult, but Michigan has the offensive firepower to outscore the stingy Badgers. -Andrew Kahn, College Basketball Contributor