Game 7: Harvard at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
on
Basics
Who: Harvard (5-1) at Michigan (4-2) Harvard-Logo[1]
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Saturday, December 4th, 1:00 PM
TV: BTN
Radio: MGoBlue / WTKA (1050 AM)/Sirius Ch. 125

Michigan welcomes former head coach Tommy Amaker back to Crisler Arena for a Saturday matinee versus Harvard. Harvard is 5-1 with a 82-66 beat down of Colorado highlighting their resume. Their strength of schedule is relatively weak thus far but there’s no denying that Amaker has Harvard headed in the right direction. Despite losing Jeremy Lin to the NBA, Amaker’s Harvard squad is picked to win the Ivy League.

For Michigan, it’s home sweet home. After being on the road for the past two weeks, this game is the first of an eight game home stand that will take Michigan into the 2011 calendar year and Big Ten play. On the heels of arguably their best performance of the season, a 69-61 win at Clemson, Michigan will certainly have their hands full with a talented Harvard squad.

539w[1]

Strengths

  • Shooting: Harvard is one of the best shooting teams that Michigan has faced this season. They shoot 52% on twos and 40% on threes for an effective field goal percentage of 55%.
  • Defending the Three:  Harvard’s opponents are shooting just 27.2% from three point range. This spells trouble for a Michigan team that loves the three point shot but has yet to find a groove shooting them.

Weaknesses

  • Turnovers: Similar to Amaker’s Michigan teams, Harvard struggles to hold onto the basketball. The Crimson turn the ball over on just under a quarter of their possessions. Michigan hasn’t forced many turnovers this season but this might be a good opportunity.
  • Defending the Two: Despite an impressive number of blocked shots, Harvard appears to have a weak interior defense. Opponents are shooting 49% from inside the arc, which ranks 218th in the country.

Players to Watch

  • Keith Wright, at 6-foot-8 240 pounds, averages 16 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting 72% from the field. The junior big man will certainly be a strong test for Jordan Morgan’s interior defense.
  • 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Christian Webster averages 17 points per game while shooting 44% from three point range.
  • Junior guard Oliver McNally is Harvard’s best three point shooter, connecting on 47% of his attempts this season.
  • Freshman Laurent Rivard is averaging just under 10 points per game but only shooting 32% from the field – 4 of 16 on twos, 13 of 37 on threes.

This will be a good test for Michigan, who has yet to play quality basketball on a consistent basis. Harvard’s shooting ability will be a challenge for Michigan’s defense, which has been extremely impressive early on. Both teams love to shoot the three, and attempt 43% of their FGs from three point range, but they also do a great job of defending the three. One of the key statistics to watch in this game is who wins the three point shooting battle.

Pomeroy predicts Michigan 66-59 and I’ll go with Michigan 65-63. I have a sneaking suspicion that this one ends up much too close for comfort. Let’s hear your predictions in the comments.

  • drae

    Can not fall in love with the 3 ball in the last 4 minutes… Have we had wide open looks and just missed or have some been forced?

    • CJD

      Mix of all three…..

  • MichBall2010

    UNC up 3 on UK with 20 seconds left. Kentucky with the ball.

  • Mith

    4 point lead with the ball, less than 2 minutes to go. We need to execute the offense here and put this thing away.

  • CJD

    I would like to see a stat that shows points per trip based on how many passes made and if the ball ever entered the paint.

  • Mith

    STUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

  • CJD

    Ouch! 1of 4 from the line………

  • CJD

    1 of 5 missed front end by Morris in last 30 seconds……..

  • KRN

    Make free throws please.

  • drae

    Evan with no points and THjr with 3? Ouch…

  • CJD

    2 of 7 from the line…..

  • Mith

    FT shooting terrible today! Thank goodness Stu got hot and saved our skins. 11 rebounds for Zach…those two really bailed out Smotz and THJr

  • skitchbeatz

    That was a very close prediction, Dylan.

  • STW

    Sloppy game. Hardaway and Smotrycz with bad games and still pulled it out.

    GREAT guess by Dylan on the outcome. Pretty much dead on. Good win against a solid team, even with playing poorly most of the game. Happy Stu came alive with his handful of games every season he carries the team with his shooting.

  • Ryan

    Dylan, you were off by one point on your score prediction….how dare you be so blatantly inaccurate!

  • UMQuasi

    Novak over 500 points just 7 games into his junior year. As much as we all love Novak, does anyone else find it a bit crazy to think that Novak has a reasonable shot at being a 1,000 point scorer?

    • Tweeter

      Both he and Stu. I believe they are separated by only a few points. Douglass actually might have come close to 500 today as well.

    • Mith

      Really I don’t see 1000 points as a big deal. Those guys have played from day 1, which means they’ll play about 130 games in their careers. Averaging 7.5 points a game doesn’t seem like an extraordinary feat if it happens.

  • Tweeter

    A win is a win especially for this team. It wasnt close to pretty and UM did an awful lot wrong, but still found a way to get the W. Maybe they were a little too lax coming into this game. Most of the mistakes seemed like mental errors (dropping passes, throwing the ball into the stands, wild dribbling).

    Great contributions off the bench today. Douglass was terrific and every shot was needed. McLimans finally showed something on the defensive end on a few possessions as well as scoring a couple buckets. Vogrich made some big threes (although he still missed a layup and struggled with his ball handling and defense).

    I also liked that Morgan finally adapted to what Wright was doing and took a charge late. He could have taken three or four of those throughout the game. Hardaway needs to find another part of his game offensively. Right now he just settles for threes and most of them are not good shots. What happened to the fifteen foot pullup we saw out of him earlier this year?

    • SteinerBlue

      Agree on Jr. The last few games he has been strictly a 3 point shooter. He has more to his game than that.

      It’s nice that we could play a subpar game and still win. The top Freshmen (TH Jr, Smotrycz & Morgan) struggled, yet Stu and Novak played like vets, and as you noted McLimans and Vogrich gave us a lift off the bench.

      I’m so impressed with the year to year improvement of Darius Morris. He’s still not a solid outside shooter, but he’s getting to the basket and taking advantage of his size advantage over other PG’s in the paint.

      We’ll have our ups and downs this year, but I’m very encouraged about the future.

    • Mith

      Vogrich did just what we need him to do…bury the open 3 pointer. Both of those were big. I can live with his other problems if he can be a specialist and knock down 40%+ from three point land.

  • drae

    Did Horford play today?

    • SteinerBlue

      Don’t believe so.