Michigan at Duke doesn’t need a grand introduction. The rivalry is a bit one-sided, Duke has won 21 of 29 games, but it still packs a punch and is always a game that demands national attention. This series is littered with big games including Fab Five, John Beilein’s first signature win in 2008, Darius Morris’s final game and Trey Burke’s coming out party in Maui.
These two teams have played some great games in past 20 years but there hasn’t been this level of combined talent on the floor since these two teams faced off in the early 90s. Both teams have three players ranked among the top-45 draft eligible prospects by Draft Express and there will be at least three potential lottery picks on the floor tonight.
Despite the talent on both rosters, neither team has played its best basketball this season. Both teams have dropped two games and will be hungry for a statement victory when they take the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight.
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In his short career at Michigan, Glenn Robinson III has played Indiana for a Big Ten championship, Kansas and Florida for a spot in the Final Four, Syracuse to get to a national title game, and Louisville for everything. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
But even with all that experience, Robinson conceded that in preparing for Michigan’s game at Duke on Tuesday he still feels the familiar mix of emotions he always gets before big games.
“I know coming in my freshman year, before a game like this I would have been happy, excited, nervous,” Robinson said on Monday during a press conference. “And now it’s sort of the same mood.”
Happy, excited and nervous are all apt descriptions for a player staring down a road trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium, one of the toughest road environments in college basketball. However, there is one circumstance working in Michigan’s favor: last season the Wolverines’ toughest road true test before the Big Ten season was Bradley; this season, they have already gone on the road against Iowa State. While Michigan didn’t win that game it was still useful for the young players a point of reference.
John Beilein compared the two venues, saying Duke is one of a few very special places to play in college hoops.
“I think it’ll be very similar to Iowa State,” Beilein said. “I think there are several venues in the country that have this type of setting, Iowa State being one of them. There’s more than a few — that’s why college basketball is so special. But when you look at those type of environments, Duke’s a special one, as well. It’s another opportunity for us. You don’t remember every win, but you remember wins against top-flight, top-coached teams on the road. And that’s the objective — to go down there and come back with a victory.”
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During Michigan’s final game in Puerto Rico, Nik Stauskas went down with an ankle injury in the second half. He was rendered ineffective for the remainder of the game and was forced to sit out during Michigan’s game on Friday, a blowout win over Coppin State. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
Will Michigan’s most productive player thus far be ready for the Wolverines’ biggest game of the season, against Duke on Tuesday? Michigan coach John Beilein said on Monday that he’s still not sure — much depends on what Stauskas does in practice today.
“He hasn’t been able to do anything full-go yet, so we’ll see more how he does today,” Beilein said. “If he can play well today in practice, then we’ll play him tomorrow. If he’s not moving the way he needs to move today in practice, we probably wouldn’t use him.”
Michigan certainly hopes Stauskas can go. Duke provides the Wolverines with their greatest challenge of this young season and Stauskas has been the player who makes Michigan’s offense go. He is the most-used and most-efficient Wolverine on offense, with an offensive rating of 132.2 and an effective field goal percentage of 63.8, which places him in the top-100 in the country.
Even more than his offensive output, Stauskas has been the go-to player Michigan has turned to in late-clock situations and the player it has relied on to find the basket late in games. Stauskas was absolutely pivotal in Michigan’s overtime win against Florida State and Puerto Rico, and he had already tallied 20 points before he was injured against Charlotte.
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John Beilein and Michigan sophomore Glenn Robinson III met with the media this afternoon in preparation for Michigan’s game at Duke on Tuesday evening (9:15 p.m., ESPN). The Wolverines will face the No. 8 Blue Devils in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, facing off for the first time since the Maui Invitational in 2011. Beilein gave an update on Nik Stauskas’s injury (he still hasn’t practiced full go) while Robinson discussed the matchup with freshman star Jabari Parker. Watch both interviews in the embedded media players below.
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The UMHoops Podcast is back, and not a moment too soon before Michigan plays its biggest game of this young season. The Wolverines are going against Duke at Cameron Indoor on Tuesday night, and Dave Merritt and I thought this would be a good time to reunite and talk some hoops. We were joined by former Michigan player Anthony Wright, followed by Laura Keeley from the Raleigh News & Observer.
- We kick things off with Anthony Wright, who played at Michigan from 2006 through 2010. You may remember Wright from his 14-point performance against Oklahoma in the 2009 NCAA tournament, when Manny Harris was sidelined for much of the game due to foul trouble. Wright visited with us to talk about Michigan’s season thus far and what he expects from the team against Duke
- Later, Laura Keeley joins us to provide the Duke perspective on Tuesday’s matchup. We recap Duke’s close loss against Arizona in the Preseason NIT on Friday and Keeley tells us what makes Jabari Parker so unique. We then delve into how the Blue Devils match up with the Wolverines and take a look at what needs to happen in order for Michigan to pull off the upset in Durham.
- The close things out Dave and I go in-depth, discussing Michigan’s lineup issues. Can Glenn Robinson III fulfill his potential if he spends most of the season at the four? Where is Mitch McGary better suited? We address these questions and more.
The music is all from the mixtape FunkWhatchuHeard by Khrysis. In order: Turn It On, Dark Alley Muzik, NC!!!, BONG BONG
You can listen using the embedded media player below, subscribe to the RSS feed, or download the MP3. You can also subscribe via iTunes.
Today is the last day of our donation drive, I wanted to reach out and thank everyone that has supported the site over the last month. We’ve received over 200 donations and have raised $11,285 – 75% of our fundraising goal. [click to continue…]