Game 22: Michigan at Northwestern Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (11-10, 4-5) at Northwestern (14-7, 3-6)
: Welsh Ryan Arena, Evanston, IL
When: February 2nd, 7pm EST
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
: Northwestern by 2
Stats: Live TFS
Pomeroy Profile
First Match-up: Preview / Post game


Michigan looks to avenge one of the most painful losses in a season full of frustrating defeats.  Michigan coasted to a 17 point lead early in the first match-up before the wheels fell off. Michigan began turning the ball over constantly and Drew Crawford caught fire from three point range.

As we are all familiar with by this point, Northwestern epitomizes the perimeter oriented team. They shoot 47.9% of their shots from three point range at a 36.1% clip and they turn it over on 17.3% of their possessions. They don’t crash the glass (29.7 OR%) and they don’t get to the line much. Considering we have our own perimeter oriented team here, we know all too well that when the shots are falling, things are rosy and when they aren’t it can get ugly.

Defensively, Northwestern runs the 1-3-1 zone very well. Jeremy Nash is extraordinary at playing at the top of the 1-3-1 and forcing turnovers. On the year, Northwestern’s defense hasn’t been extraordinary. They rank 100th in Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency and don’t stand out in any of the four factors. The bad news for Michigan is that Northwestern does a great job defending the three, holding opponents to 29.8% three point shooting.

Northwestern freshman Drew Crawford scored 25 points on 9 shots in Ann ArborPersonnel wise, the three biggest concerns are John Shurna, Michael Thompson, and Drew Crawford. Shurna, a 6-foot-8 forward, is averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds per game while shooting 34.4% from three point range. Michigan did a pretty good job of holding Shurna in check in the first match-up, holding him to 11 points on 14 shots. The Wildcat’s point guard, Thompson, is a deadly three point shooter knocking down just under 40% of his attempts. But it was Drew Crawford that lit up Michigan in the first game, the freshman shot 7 of 9 from the field for 25 and snagged 8 rebounds to boot.

The keys for Michigan are pretty simple: defend the three point shot and don’t turn the ball over. Michigan has played significantly better defense since that Northwestern game, which gives me a bit of hope that they can slow the Wildcats offense. The problem is that Michigan has been turning the ball over a lot in conference play, turning the ball over on 20.1% of their possessions, 7th in the Big Ten.

Making a few three point shots would also help the cause. In the pre-game media round table, Anthony Wright let it be known that Michigan “shoots awesome in practice”. Let’s hope they start falling in Evanston.

With a short turnaround from the Iowa game, it will be interesting to see how much Beilein has drawn up to face the Wildcat’s 1-3-1 zone. Michigan looked like they had never faced a zone before and it would be disheartening to see them come out as ill-prepared as the last time around.

Vegas likes Northwestern by 2 while Pomeroy gives Michigan a 39% chance at the upset and takes Northwestern by 3. Michigan is capable of winning this game but it will take discipline and execution on both sides of the ball that we haven’t seen consistently. Thoughts, discussion, and predictions about the game belong in the comments below.

P.S.: It appears that Finney wing guard Isaiah Sykes still on the Michigan radar Michigan was in the house checking out Finney’s game versus Southeastern last week.

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  • Giddings

    gpsimms and jmblue, it is interesting to think about how many guys on this team are playing out of position.
    – Stu is a SG playing PG
    – Novak is a SG/SF playing PF
    – Peedi is a PF playing C
    – LLP is a SG occasionally playing PG

    Really the only true contributors playing at their natural positions are Manny and Darius. It’s gotta have at least some effect on the shooting percentages…

  • Drew

    also just saw Manny’s status… I think we might as well kiss him good bye. he ain’t coming back. sorry for getting hopes up.

  • KevinTh

    Beilein has got to go. Ask yourself, can we do better? The answer is yes. This is not the way basketball should be played. I’m sick of recruiting “projects”. GO GET PLAYERS!!!!!!

  • other steve

    on the free press and detroit news websites they just ran articles saying that manny said he wanted to come back. what does his status say and why the change?

  • Tweeter

    Well Im real glad I dvr’d that. It was nice to be able to fast forward most of the second half. On Manny – who cares? I like the guys talent but I am so sick of him being a head case. If he goes pro, then good. If he stays, then good. Either way I am not going to lose sleep over it.

    What happened to DEshawn? I know he struggled a lot in this game and seemed out of it especially on D, but was still surprised to see such little playing time.

    Well I guess its on to 7-1.

  • It’s too bad that this site gets trolled now. Kevinth – I don’t think you’re what anyone here wants to deal with.

  • alf

    Anybody feeling better about that 96-team NCAA field yet?

  • Tweeter

    Wouldnt make a difference if the field was 337 or 2, this team has just been disappointing. So much potential, just no leaders. This team has no identity. You cant force players to be leaders when they just arent that type of guy. Its just unfortunate that none of the guys who were in position to be a leader, had that ability.

    One thing I found interesting during this game, was that Beilein did not take timeouts during NWs run in the second half. At first I was like what are you doing, then I was like, ok I like it, a little bit of Coach K there, but then I kinda felt like he had just resigned himself to the fact that this team did not have it tonight and no number of talkings to was going to do any good.

    When you watched last years team, and maybe this was due to the fact that we had not had a team to really get behind in some time, but you always got a little bit of an energy feeling. You felt like they would do everything that they possibly could to win. This year, its just not there. It seems like more teams are out hustling us. There is no bounce in the step. Everyone just kinda plays the game and seems disconnected from all the other players.

    Ugh I need to sleep. At least we got signing day tomorrow to take our minds off the disaster that was tonights game.

  • fresh

    the only thing we can say is that beilein still doesnt have a true 4 or 5 man “playing” on this team yet and i suppose we are young but if in 2-3 years from now we are good then its on to the next coach

  • fresh

    we are not good

  • Alex

    Give Beilein some more time. This season is a dissapointment but he did lead us to the NCAAs last year. Besides I think we are starting to get some nice classes and we have a coach that actually developes his players.

  • Junderground

    As for next year, if we don’t get any more recruits, it will be brutal with Harris gone, and hard to predict with him here. I get the sense we’ll sign at least one more guy, and maybe he’ll be Horford or someone of similar stature. So it’s a bit early to start speculating–we don’t know the personnel. Someone above gave Morris Stu Zack Smotry and Morgan as the starting lineup. That WOULD be brutal, because even if Morgan really steps up, you’d still be looking at just him and Smotrycz and three essentially ineffectual players. But I don’t think it’s going to be that lineup for much of the year, even if Manny goes to the NBDL. In any event, we should be able to expect a lot of inconsistency with a very young lineup, and hopefully ’11-12 will see the team gelling and looking sharp.

  • alf

    The person who mentioned JB’s not taking timeouts has a good point. He sometimes seems so calm on the sidelines when other coaches (and not just that evil Martin guy from Kansas State) would be utterly fuming.

    But what’s the point in complaining. Either we get better or we don’t, and the world keeps turning either way — even if PSU wins at Crisler.