Game 13: Wisconsin at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt

: Michigan (10-2) vs Wisconsin (9-3)
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Wednesday, December 31st 2pm ET
Line: U-M by 3
Preview: Stat Sheet
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)

The fun and games are over and it’s time to tip off the grinding Big Ten schedule. Only 3 of Michigan’s next 19 games are against teams outside of the RPI top 100 and the Big Ten is going to be more competitive from top to bottom than it has been in years. If you caught last night’s Illinois/Purdue game you got a pretty good reminder of what Big Ten basketball is all about.

Wisconsin is a team designed for conference play. Bo Ryan has turned Wisconsin into a machine that systematically rises to the top of the Big Ten year in and year out. Last year’s team lost to Marquette and Duke in the non-conference before winning the Big Ten with a 16-2 record and taking the tournament title for good measure. When you look at Wisconsin you have to throw out their losses to Texas, Marquette, and UConn and realize that they are going to bring it on Wednesday.

The key for both teams in this game is pace. Michigan averages 65.8 possessions per game compared to Wisconsin’s 61.2. The Big Ten is known for slow basketball and Wisconsin is one of the reasons why. The only conference team that plays slower than Wisconsin is Iowa (57.2) and they are the slowest team in the country. Michigan isn’t an uptempo team but they need to play the game at their pace and not let Wisconsin take the air out of the ball. Wisconsin’s 3 losses came in games with over 63 possessions and they have only won two games with over 63 possessions (UW-GB and SIU-Edwardsville).

Wisconsin’s backcourt consists of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon and they can both shoot it. Hughes is shooting 47.8% from long range while averaging 30 mpg, 12.6 ppg, and 2.8 apg to 1.3 to/game. Bohannon’s percentage is down a little from last year at 35.2% but he leads the team in long range attempts.

Up front the Badgers lean on the duo of Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry. Landry averages 12.1 ppg to go along with his 4.3 boards but he’s also a threat from outside with a 42.9% 3pt percentage. Krabbenhoft is a guy who has never quite turned into a superstar but is just consistent. Krabbenhoft averages a balanced 7.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 2.5 apg.

Keaton Nankivil (5.1ppg, 3.9 rpg) rounds out the starting lineup but the guy to watch out for is sixth man Jon Leuer. Leuer is a 6-10 sophomore forward who can step out and hit the three (46.7%) and averages 9.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Wisconsin is a team full of guys who can step out and shoot the three but also play disciplined slow basketball and grind you up. The keys for Michigan beyond dictating the tempo are winning the turnover battle and keeping Wisconsin off the free throw line. Michigan has done a good job keeping opponents off the line but they also don’t do a very good job getting to the line. Michigan plays best when they use their 1-3-1 effectively and create turnovers and get some easy baskets. The 1-3-1 has looked a bit dicey over the last couple games but Beilein has typically done a good job tweaking it just the right way in big games.

KenPom thinks this is a game Michigan should win 67-63 (67% confidence) and I agree as long as Michigan can play their game. Hopefully they come ready to play despite students being absent because if they don’t Wisconsin will come out swinging and steal one in Ann Arbor. Arguably our three worst games have been when there are no students (Savannah State, Florida Gulf Coast, and North Carolina Central). I worry a little bit about some of the freshmen in their first Big Ten game but they have played the likes of Duke and UCLA and played in College Park so I think they are at least a little battle tested. These first four conference games are huge and it’s important for Michigan to get off to a very good start if they want to go dancing down the road.

Thoughts and predictions in the comments. Also, if you have the day off and are in the area try to make it to Crisler Arena because there are still tickets available.

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  • ryan

    It is weird to see Michigan the favorite in a game like this.
    I do beleive Michigan will pull out a tough one here. It will be a good defensive battle and michigan steps it up with the 1-3-1. Final: 56-51 for the good guys!

  • Jay

    Dylan, in case you missed it, there’s a good Will Regan scouting report on the Maryland Rivals site ($) just posted yesterday.

    Sounds like a perfect fit for Coach Beilein.

  • kevin

    the one thing that i love about umhoops is the breakdown of stats, analysis is good but an actual breakdown on stats like the possessions/game helps a lot

  • kevin

    the one thing that i love about umhoops is the breakdown of stats, analysis is good but an actual breakdown on stats like the possessions/game helps a lot

  • Thanks for the link Jay. Regan is right up at the top of my list that is for sure. Sounds like a perfect Beilein big man to me.

  • Mike

    I really hope we win, but reading your preview, they sound like the kind of team that will give us a lot of trouble. I remember that huge sophomore ripping us last year. Wisco wins 65-61.

  • Giddings

    I’m anxious to see the effects of a 1.5 day rest (us) versus a 1 week rest (them).

  • MoreBlueThanGold

    Any hope in the future for having fewer B10 games(like none) scheduled at home during breaks?

  • Giddings: Remember Christmas was in the middle of their break. I would bet they didn’t practice every day over the break.

    MoreBlueThanGold: I don’t think so, it’s all random. The Big Ten makes the schedule and gives it to the schools who have no say.

  • David

    Hey do you guys think tickets will be available if I wait until getting to AA to buy them? Or, can I buy tickets online this late?

  • David: They usually stop online sales because they bring all the tickets to Crisler. But I am pretty sure you could get them at the door. Last night the tickets available were in the corners of the yellow so I don’t think it’ll be a sell out. Even if it is there are scalpers everywhere as well.

  • David

    Thanks Dylan. And great work with the blog!

  • Evan

    This is a game of two great X and O coaches, right? It should be fun to see how they adjust to each other and what is going on in the game.

    The 1-3-1 is supposed to help us in a game like this, I think, so I think one key will be to hit our shots so we can get back in that zone. I am worried that we will be vulnerable inside when we are in man defense.

    I would like to see us push the ball, so I am expecting Grady will be key and I would think he will get lots of minutes. I will be looking for him to have low turnovers and hopefully hit a few threes to remain dangerous in the minds of defenders.

    And, as always, I’m looking for big games from Sims and Harris. It’s now time to see if they are really All Big Ten players.

    A bad situation would be to need Gibson’s size on defense because we are not making shots and have him continue to struggle offensively. That would likely slow the game down to their speed without us having as much offensive productivity, which would spell a low scoring doom game for us.

    Overall, I would expect a tight game throughout. Great coaches should be able to make the adjustments necessary to avoid long scoreless runs, and the teams have been coached to be patient and run their style of offense.


  • Merlin

    Big game today and I have no idea how they will do. I want to believe but I just need to see them play well today, to see them rise to one more challenge before I am comfortable that this can be a tournament team. Will they shoot the three well? will they play better defense? will they be patient on offense and not throw the ball away? We will soon know.

  • Ryan

    Anybody know where I can watch the game if i’m not in Michigan?

    Does the BTN have a stream?

  • This Minnesota/MSU game should be fun… Minnesota fans are fired up:

    And MSU fans seem to have a cautious optimism…

    Bottom line, I’m excited that the Big Ten season is finally here.

  • bball

    I was thinking the same thing as Ryan when reading the preview….’are we seriously supposed to win this game’? Kind of surreal to me that a Michigan basketball team is expected to be competitive with Wisconsin, let alone win the game.

    I’m very anxious about this game. Can the team crank back up the intensity? Can they sustain the effort for 40 minutes? The offensive and defensive lapses that last a few minutes have started creeping back in which is scary to me.

    Keys – Grady staying in front of Hughes on Defense. Michigan shooting above 37% from 3-point range. Sims being healthy and staying out of foul trouble. Finishing layups and such on the break. Keeping our assist to turnover ratio near where it has been. around 17 or so assists and 11 turnovers would go a long way to winning this one.

    I’m also curious to see if we can be more effective against the Wisc defense now that the guys are more familiar with the system and Stu and Novak, who are very good passers, are out there.

    Don’t want to be debbie downer here, but I think this might be a reality check game. I think we lose a close one in the high 50’s low 60’s, but of course hope I’m very wrong!

    Go Blue!!

  • Ken in Vegas

    I have to agree with Bball in this one. I’m a betting man, and I just can’t pull the trigger on this one, even though the sports book is just downstairs. I’m mostly worried about Wisconsin’s coaching, discipline, size, and three point shooting. They seem like a balanced team, and I’m just not sure we have enough momentum coming into this game after a few ho-hum performances. God, I hope I’m wrong. There is a good chance that we just throw it into a different gear when we play in big games. If we are hot behind the arc, then it’s going to be a tough game for Wisky. I can’t work with this much anxiety. GO BLUE!!!

  • Nick

    Any tips for where to find an online stream?

  • Avery Queens

    I think as long as we get production from one freshman and 2/3 from LLP, Manny, and Sims we win. Definitely gotta let Grady push the ball up the court and play up tempo. I’m a little worried about Landry.

  • rlc

    “Anybody know where I can watch the game if i’m not in Michigan?”

    Do you get ESPN2?

    I have no idea how this or any game will go. I decided yesterday that my prediction is that M will win between 7 and 11 games in the Big Ten. I will only be disappointed if they finish the season with a losing record overall – which would mean going at best 5-13 in conference.

    If they do finish .500 or better in conference, I expect them to play in the NCAA tournament, which would be a big treat…

  • JayRich

    i actually worry more about our 1-3-1 than i like it. We have sucked on D so far, and we are going to get killed on the boards today. Maybe i am just a pessimist that can’t believe in the new wolverines. Wisconsin is the kind of team that i think will give us trouble (long and can all shoot) unlike a minnesota team that is athletic but not as gifted in the post. I’ll go 63-52 Badgers, but am praying we are raining threes.

  • —ESPN will have the game as well

    UofM has got to slow down Leuer, that guy is long and can score in a lot of different ways. Gibson needs to give Michigan 20 good minutes. That would be a huge lift for this team.

  • Dylan

    Manny and Peedi shut down in the first. I think we can come back but a frustrating half. Novak is playing hisheaart out keeping us alive.

  • JBlo

    Watching the score updates here at work. Looks like Wisky started the game shooting lights out. Still they’re shooting over 65% at the half. Hopefully they cool down a bit and we can climb back into the game.

  • Sheryl

    Scroll down and click on the game. You may have to click something to allow TVU Plugin to run on your puter

  • Mith

    Man, I am genuinely worried about our defense. Wisconsin is shooting very well, but they are also getting alot of easy shots by driving. (Currently 53-41)

    Also, I wish Douglass would stop shooting. Ugh.

  • Jacob

    Why’d they play so much man to man defense? I realize they got a couple easy layups against the 1-3-1, but they were getting open shot after open shot while exploiting their size advantage while we played man. If Novak is really gonna play the 4, I dunno how Beilein expects man-to-man defense to be effective.

  • JayRich

    i think i pretty much called this game. we will not win against teams with length and that can shoot.

  • Drew

    Screw Wisconsin and their consistently slow, big white guys that always seem to find a way to win.

  • bball

    I don’t understand the minutes distribution in this one

    Effort was just not there from everyone but Lee and Novak (who was playing his ass off today). Horrible. No Heart out there except for those two.

    Where were shepard and grady?

    reality? hi. how are you. I don’t like you.

    I really hope this is the worst effort we see.

  • ryan

    I hate to say it but Manny was a the key to this loss. He tried to force it WAY to much. Interesting to see Douglass play the point a bit.

  • Ken in Vegas

    Well, that was humbling. Pretty much what I expected, but I didn’t want to believe it. Pretty bad games from Sims and Harris. Was it just me or were people blowing right by Sims? Harris was forcing way too many bad shots, as was Douglass. Great to see Novak shooting lights out. People have said that Laval will be the best true point guard since Robinson. I just don’t see it. He’s not even a point guard for starters. He can hit the open three, but I haven’t seen the playmaking ability at all. And that includes feeding others. Daniel Horton was much better at his age. I still like Laval, but that’s way too much hype for this guy.

    Hopefully, Wisconsin just played the game of their year and our D really isn’t as bad as it looked. Otherwise, we won’t be dancing.

  • rlc

    “Was it just me or were people blowing right by Sims?”

    Did you blow by him too? Everyone on Wisconsin did. I guess I hope it was just the lingering effect of the ankle injury – but even if that’s the cause, will it get any better by Sunday, or February?

  • Robert04

    I would like to see Gibson and Sims play together down low with Novak, LLP, and Douglass. But, yeah, Gibson must be more consistent and show more flashes like he did today with the and-1 and the boards and blocks. Manny forced it too much. Also we need to play off sims more. He was effective in spurts, bum ankle notwithstanding.

  • Drew

    They need to get Sims the ball down low more. Hopefully it’ll draw double teams and get our shooters open. I know it doesnt seem right to flat out post up iso style in that offense, but it needs to be done.

    Gibson is terrible. End of story. Hes slow, barely rebounds, doesn’t play good D. I don’t care about chemistry, this was a prime example of why need Ekpe down low contesting/blocking shots.

  • Ken in Vegas

    Yeah, I’m back on the wish Ekpe was here team. I was actually really surprised that we didn’t play Shephard at all. He seemed like the kind of body we needed out there. I would have been all for him replacing Stu or even Laval for 15 minutes. Oh well. They looked like the better team in every facet. I think they will finish in the top 3 now that I have had a closer look at them. Hell, look at what they did last year. Everyone slept on them all of a sudden.

  • Ken in Vegas

    Illinois becomes a must win at home, in my opinion. I know everyone will say it’s too early for a must-win, but we have to show we belong right now or this whole thing will pass us by.

  • jmblue

    Oh, we definitely need to get that one or we’re really behind the eight-ball.

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