Game 5: Michigan vs. Duke Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: No. 15 Michigan (4-0) vs. No. 6 Duke (5-0) duke-logo[1]
Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, HI
When: 7:00 P.M. ET, November 22nd, 2011
TV: ESPN / ESPN3 (Provider List)
Radio: MGoBlue /  WWJ (950 AM) / WWWW (102.9 FM) / Sirius: 128 / XM: 191
Last Game: Recap / Gallery / Quotes / Key Plays
All 2011 Maui Invitational Coverage

It’s easy to dismiss the desolate Michigan locker room after a 73-71 loss to Duke last March as a distant memory. After all, It’s a new season and both rosters look different, but 12 of the 16 names on the current Michigan roster sat in that locker room eight months ago. As far as basketball memories go, those wounds are still fresh. Duke ended Michigan’s season in a game that Wolverine players thought they had every right to win. They might not have said it publicly but this is exactly the game Michigan players hoped for when they traveled to Maui. Gradually, Michigan-Duke is beginning to feel like a rivalry again.

The two teams split a pair of games in 2009 and played one of the more entertaining games of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, a two point Duke win. Jalen Rose stoked the fire as his documentary provided the sort of inflammatory fodder that can boost any rivalry, and now Michigan and Duke are set to face off again in the Maui Invitational semifinals.

Unlike Memphis, Duke has already played plenty of basketball this season and there’s a decent sample size of statistics available to analyze. The Blue Devils have already beaten four KenPom top 100 teams in Belmont, Michigan State, Davidson and Tennessee.

Everyone is quick to point out that this isn’t a “vintage Duke team” because the Blue Devils lost their top three offensive weapons from a season ago in Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving. Duke might lack any feared playmakers of the past but the Duke offense has been plenty efficient in its own right. Duke attempts just 33% of its shots from beyond the arc but has been lethally efficient, connecting on 45% of its three point attempts. That lethal three point shooting has been complemented by a gaudy number of free throw attempts with a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) nearing a ridiculous 60%.

Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins

Seth Curry, Austin Rivers and Andre Dawkins spearhead the Duke backcourt. Curry (52%) and Dawkins (44%) are deadly three point shooters but Curry’s game is a bit more diverse than Dawkins, who has attempted over 70% of his field goals from three point range. Curry often plays the point guard, despite not playing the position early in his career, and leads the Blue Devils in assist. Both players have quick shooting releases, know how to use screens and shoot off of curls. If early returns say much, you can’t get caught on a screen against either player without likely giving up three points.

Rivers entered the year as the No. 2 ranked freshman but hasn’t necessarily hit the ground running. His early struggles have been detailed by and examined from an NBA perspective by Chad Ford but he still brings an attacking skillset that the rest of the Duke roster is lacking. Rivers is shooting just 47 percent on twos and averages more turnovers than assists per game but leads Duke in free throw attempts and scores 14 points per game. He has an extremely quick first step, especially given his 6-foot-4, 200 pound frame, and will be tough for Michigan to keep out of the lane.

Down low Duke relies on Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Miles Plumlee. All three players have legitimate size at 6-foot-10+ and are solid if not spectacular. Both Plumlees are above average offensive rebounders and solid finishers, despite most of their points coming off of dunks and put backs. Mason’s offensive game is a bit stronger than Miles’s and he has a couple of go-to moves on the block including the jump hook. Kelly is a more dynamic scorer and has range out to the three point line where he connects on 40 percent of his attempts. Despite his 6-foot-11 frame, Kelly can play the four or the five and really hurt Michigan offensively last year despite proving a bit of a defensive liability.

John Beilein might have outcoached Josh Pastner with relative ease but he’s in for a chess match against Duke. Mike Krzyzewski’s team will not miss the defensive rotations and surrender the sort of easy baskets that Memphis allowed Michigan today. The Duke defense has been solid in each of the four factors early this season but not overwhelming in any one element. That recipe has worked well, as just one team, Belmont (1.01), has surpassed the 1 point per possession plateau versus the Blue Devils this season.

Last year in Charlotte, Michigan was able to score the ball effectively (1.16 points per trip) against Duke thanks to hot shooting (58% eFG%) and not turning the ball over (12% TO rate). Duke was able to outscore Michigan because of its ability to crash the offensive glass (36% offensive rebounding rate) and get to the free throw line (51% free throw rate). Michigan’s going to have to shoot the ball well to pull off an upset but last year proved that isn’t always enough. Duke’s offense comes down to three things: making threes, shooting free throws and grabbing offensive rebounds. For Michigan to beat the Blue Devils, who are undefeated all-time in Maui, it will have to negate Duke’s offensive attack in at least two of these three categories.

Ken Pomeroy gives Duke a 74% chance at the win, predicting a 70-63 final score. Let’s hear your thoughts, keys and predictions in the comments below.

  • rlcBlue

    One of the big surprises of the opener was Michigan outrebounding Memphis 36-23 while playing zone much of the game. Controlling the defensive boards against Duke would go a long way towards a win.

    • MGoTweeter

      I think the rebounding disparity was more a result of the way Memphis chose to play then it was a result of anything Michigan did.  Memphis played four out, one in against the zone and relied on their one on one game almost exclusively.  That meant that on any given shot three Memphis players were standing around watching the play from the outside and not in a position to attack the glass.  This made Michigan’s job of defensive rebounding pretty easy.  

      I agree that rebounding is going to be a huge factor in this game, but if UM plays zone, Duke will certainly be more organized to attack the glass.  

      • rlcBlue

        Absolutely – we can’t expect Duke to play as counterproductively as Memphis did. The last time we played them, they outrebounded us 33-22 and collected 10 offensive boards.

  • beingklauskinski

    It makes me physically sick to see how generous the officiating always is for duke…i hope, but certainly don’t expect that michigan will overcome the tilt

    • Mattski

      Well, being klaus kinski, you WOULD be the kind of arch-romantic who gets ulcers over basketball games!

      • beingklauskinski

         haha, indeed mattski –  “Every man is an abyss, it makes you dizzy looking in”

  • Somehow it seems fitting that the UM Basketball team is playing Duke the same week the football team is playing that school in Ohio.

  • maxwell’s demon

    The Fab 5 taught me to hate Duke at a young age. I still do. Go Blue!

  • SamGoBlue

    Give me Michigan 72-65.

  • Mattski

    Hopefully we come out and hit our shots early. Keeping it close at halftime could be a key.

    Treasure trove of content here today, Dylan. Thank you. Small but grateful donation coming.

  • C_weezy

    Michigan will indeed knock off #6 duke to play in the Maui invitation championship game tomorrow!!

  • gpsimms

    Duke will not play like idiots defensively.  So far this year we have not even hit 33% on 3s I don’t think.  If that happens to us in this game, it will be ugly, I think.  Vogrich, Douglass, Novak and Trey have to hit their open looks from deep.

    • Flwolve

      When was the last time UM was run out of the gym?  I think no matter what, UM will be within striking distance near the end of the game.

      • I know the question was mostly rhetorical but I would say @ NW and @ Indiana last year qualify as getting run out of the gym. And looking back on that stretch, that was really close to when everything hit rock bottom.

        • Ross03

          I agree.  I was at the NW game and UM really didn’t compete.  I could tell the talent was there, but Morris was trying to do too much and THJ looked like a Frosh (talented but wild).  The fact that Beilen squeezed as much improvement out of them and got them playing at as a team after that was simply astounding.  Clearly the light went on and Morris started playing more within the team structure and THJ went on to have an amazing freshman year.

  • Taddie

    Gotta say, we’re playing with house money at this point. With our win over Memphis, we’ve put ourselves in a win-win situation. Beat #6 Duke and its a massively signature win, with a chance to notch another Wednesday and win the whole tournament. Lose, and it’s a date with a UCLA team that we are better than to take #3 in the tournament. That said, as a gambler…if we play like we did yesterday, I like our odds.

  • MaizeRage

    I got a feeling the maize and blue are going to hand the dukies their first ever loss in maui.  If not atleast they will probably go on to beat UCLA tomorrow, which would still be a great showing.  Need that defence to be stout again, and Burke and Timmy had great games yesterday without hitting a 3.  The drive probably won’t be there as much so hopefully they both can make a 3 or two to offset that.

  • JimC

    I’m just glad that Memphis beat TN.  Yesterday’s win still has good value.

    • Eh, it’s nice but they’ll play 30 more games this year.

      • JimC

        Right.  Wow did that game look like playground ball.  And that “intentional travel” at the end.   C’mon, value the rock!!

  • MGoTweeter

    well looks like we are not going to be tipping off until around 8 now.  

    • Denarded

      is this true? because of the double OT game , they cant warmup in 2 hours?

      • Chaminade and Georgetown set to tip off ~35-40 minutes behind schedule after 2OT Memphis win – will definitely affect U-M’s scheduled tip.

  • Nick

    Michigan 87
    Duke 12

    • MGoTweeter

      your just talking about the rebounding margin, right?  The score will not be that close…