Game 2: Towson at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
on
Basics
Who: Michigan (1-0) vs. Towson (0-1) images[1]
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: 8:30 p.m. ET, November 14th, 2011
TV: ESPN3
Radio: MGoBlue / WWJ (950 AM)/ WWWW (102.9 FM)
Vegas: Michigan by 26 / Pomeroy: U-M 80-54

It’s going to be a long first season for new Towson head coach Pat Skerry. The Tigers went winless in conference games last season, lost 80% of their per minute production and return just one letter winner and zero starters from a season ago. Ken Pomeroy’s robots only give Towson a greater than 50 percent chance of winning one game this season. Early returns aren’t great either as Kansas beat the Tigers emphatically, 100-54, in its season opener on Friday.

The Colonial League contains some of the nation’s favorite Cinderellas with schools like VCU and George Mason making Final Four runs but Towson continues to lag behind the rest of the conference. Last season’s struggles began on the defensive side of the ball where the Tigers surrendered a whopping 1.20 points per possession in CAA games. Ken Pomeroy’s preseason ratings actually have Towson projected as the worst defense in the country. 345th out of 345 teams. If there’s ever a game for Michigan to rediscover an offensive identity, this would be the one.

Towson’s offense was plagued by turnovers in its season opening loss at Kansas as the Tigers coughed the ball up on a whopping 34% of their possessions. Shooting just 36% on twos and 33% on threes, the game probably would have been even uglier if Towson didn’t grab 43% of its missed shots. The key to the game defensively for Michigan will be limiting second chance points and controlling the defensive glass.

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That offensive rebounding attack is spearheaded by fifth year senior, 6-foot-8, 220 pound forward, Robert Nwankwo. The big man notched a double-double at Kansas, tallying 14 points and 10 rebounds, while receiving support from a pair of slashing wings, JUCO transfer Marcus Damas and freshman Deon Jones (pictured). True freshman Kris Walden runs the point guard but had five turnovers to just two assists in his first career game.

Ken Pomeroy’s early numbers predict an 80-54 Michigan win in a 62 possession game, giving U-M a 98  percent chance of victory. This game appears to be the perfect opportunity for the Wolverine offense to shake off some of the rust. Beyond offensive cohesion, the biggest test for Michigan is likely to be on the defensive glass. Towson more than held its own on the glass against Kansas and should be able to provide Michigan’s front court with a legitimate challenge.

This & That: An inside look with pre and post game footage from the locker room from Friday’s game at JohnBeilein.com. Towson is 0-4 all-time versus Michigan but two of those losses were by three points or less. Tim McCormick will be in the broadcast booth for the ESPN3.com telecast, a non-subscription online stream is one step closer to live broadcast television. Nick Baumgardner outlines four things to watch. Ferris State highlights.

Let’s hear your thoughts and predictions on tonight’s game in the comments below.

  • mikey_mac

    I wasn’t able to watch either the preseason game or the opener, but I keep hearing about the offense dragging. But I’m also hearing about low 3-pt shooting %. How are these related? Is the funk putting UM is tough shooting situations, taking contested shots, or are they just missing open looks right now? The former is a much more real concern than the latter.

    • IPFW_11

      Michigan struggled most of the Wayne State game on offense and for the first half of the Ferris State game. In the second half of the Ferris State game they were getting it going though. We’ll see tonight if they can carry that over. In both games poor shooting was why the offense struggled for the most part. Michigan missed wide open shots way too often. 

    • MGoTweeter

      Its a little of both right now.  Michigan has gotten good looks in both games and just missed them, but there have also been times where the team has struggled to generate “better” shots.  In terms of quality looks from three, almost all of them have been that.  But at some point they do need to figure out how to create other shots.  

      The pick and roll game has not really developed at all.  Some guys have shown the ability to create off the dribble, but in my opinion, guys have been too unselfish.  Especially Hardaway, but others as well.  We’ve seen far too many turnovers off penetration and dish situations, where a player could have just taken the shot himself.  

      • mikey_mac

        That’s a good point. The fluidity and efficiency of the pick and roll is an important catalyst for this team, and one that took quite a while last year to fully develop into a true weapon.

        • Billiam

          But THJ was doing the pick-and-role last year with Morgan.  I don’t really see how experience is an issue here.

  • Mattski

    This is actually the opener of the Maui Classic? Does the winner of this play the winner of something else?

    • It’s a “Maui mainland game” … all of the mid-majors that play mainland games against Michigan, Duke, Memphis, etc. will get together and play games next week while the rest of the schools play in Maui. The game doesn’t actually count toward some tournament result though so if Michigan loses or Belmont beats Memphis, those schools still play each other next Monday.

  • gpsimms

    I hope we see some 1-3-1 tonight.  I feel like it could work well against Memphis, if they get it up and running by then.

    Though, the last few years the 1-3-1 has been terrible until the second half of the season.  With a new point guard, and kinks to work out offensively, maybe its best just to leave it on the shelf.

    • That’s a good point. Memphis is a team begging to get a taste of the 1-3-1 but you wonder how far along Michigan is in that regard. We might see a bit of it this week if we are going to see it next week. It was huge in the early season upset over UCLA back at MSG. I’m trying to recall how much of it U-M ran last year in Atlantic City against ‘Cuse and UTEP.

      • ZRL

        The last couple of year Beilein’s MO against elite non-conference teams is to start out running man, and then if they are tearing us apart switch to the 1-3-1 and see if it will work (Duke, Kansas last 2 years). IIRC, we were playing very good man defense against Cuse so there was no reason to switch. I bet we’ll start out in man vs Memphis and then switch to a veteran lineup to run the 1-3-1 if they are tearing us apart. 

        • MGoTweeter

          well i think Beilein’s MO is to play man, then use the zone if needed. I don’t think I can remember a single game where we started out playing zone.  The team also deployed quite a bit of 2-3 a few years back.  

          I don’t know that it is necessary to break out the 1-3-1 prior to Memphis.  Rather this team just get everything worked out in the man to man, then against Memphis if we are having trouble you can always throw out the zone.  Even if we are not good at it, it can cause problems just by being something new.  

        • Billiam

          That veteran line-up will be the key.  One of the reasons why been forced to do it later in the season is because there haven’t been enough experienced players.  I really hope we see it against Memphis, because the experienced players should be able to do it.  Only problem is that puts Stu at PG, which could spell trouble if an athletic team (read: Memphis) puts pressure back on us.

  • UMfan

    I noticed that on the ESPN3.com schedule it says “(Exclusive)” next to the Michigan vs. Towson game. Does this mean I will have to pay to watch it?? I would be very upset with that.

    • If you get ESPN3 you can watch the game. There’s no subscription cost on top of your ISP having the service.

      • UMfan

        Well I have Charter as my internet provider but I don’t actually have ESPN3 on my TV so does that mean I would get the game or not?

        • ESPN3 is a streaming service, no one gets it on their TV. http://www.espn3.com and try to play something. 

          • UMfan

            Alright I figured it out thanks a lot. Sorry for my ignorance.

  • Billiam

    Is there gonna be a replay?  I’m working, so…yeah.

    • Pretty sure ESPN3 archives games at least for a couple of days.

      • Prigby

        Saw the replay of the Game vs. Ferris St today on BTN.  Love the floor.  I did notice however that the Maize(gold) on the floor does not match the Home Maize(Gold) jerseys. The jerseys are much brighter and contrast is drastic to me.don’t mean to be picky, just something that stuck out to me.  also, is the camera angle higher at Crisler this year than last year?. Go Blue!!

        • MGoTweeter

          I heard Brandon talk about the maize in the colors and how they want to get it straightened out so that everything has the same maize color.  However, I have also heard that in some material you can only get certain shades, so it might not be possible to match them up perfectly.  I do think that they need to get rid of the highlighter maize they use in the jerseys recent years, but I also don’t want them to revert to the faded maize look they had back in the day.  There has to be some middle ground right?

          • Prigby

            Aggree.  the floor Maize almost looks orangy compared to the jerseys.  I think the floor last year matched up better to the uniforms