Big Ten (20-13, 9-9)
Big Wins: 11/20 vs UCLA (55-52), 12/6 Duke (81-73), 1/4 Illinois (74-64)
Bad Losses: 12/3 at Maryland (70-75), 1/20 at Penn State (58-73), 2/22 at Iowa (60-70)
Last NCAA Appearance: 1998, Second Round loss to UCLA
Coach: John Beilein (6-4 in 4 NCAA appearances)
C.J. Lee, Senior, Guard, 2.5 ppg, 1.6 apg
Stu Douglass, Freshman, Guard, 5.9 ppg, 2.1 apg
Zack Novak, Freshman, Guard, 6.8 ppg, 1.4 apg
Manny Harris, Sophomore, Guard, 16.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.4 apg
DeShawn Sims, Junior, Forward, 15.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Zack Gibson, Junior, Forward, 3.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Laval Lucas-Perry, Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 ppg, 1.2 apg
David Merritt, Senior, Guard, 1.9 ppg, 1.0 apg
Jevohn Shepherd, Senior, Forward, 2.7 ppg, 1.1 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
The Wolverines are beginning to do what one would expect from a Coach John Beilein team. The take a ton of three-pointers, share the ball well and rarely turn it over. Sophomore Manny Harris is the catalyst on the perimeter. He leads the team with 16.8 points per game, but he will also find his teammates and effectively hit the glass. Even if he is struggling in the scoring department, Harris is the most productive and helpful player on the team.
Harris leads the team with 4.4 assists per game, but a bulk of the turnovers come from him as well. It is players like defensive specialist C.J. Lee, sophomore Kelvin Grady, freshman Stu Douglass and Arizona transfer Laval Lucas-Perry that have done a great job taking care of the ball. The Wolverines have a ton of different options to handle the ball and it is nearly impossible for the opposition to get a fast break off of a turnover.
Why They Can Disappoint:
But Michigan does give up a lot of second-chance points. The team will be outrebounded by just about any opponent out there. DeShawn Sims, a 6-8 junior, is a superb scorer and a solid rebounder, but the only help he gets on the glass is from Harris. The rest of the guards are pretty much ballhandlers and shooters and the depth in the frontcourt is pretty slim. Zack Gibson has started a handful of games this year and can do the dirty work under the basket, but Coach Beilein usually needs somebody else’s scoring on the floor instead of his rebounding. The other issue is consistency. Eleven different players have started at least four games this year and some of those players have had difficult stretches of play during the season. Lucas-Perry has struggled since a hot start and Anthony Wright has virtually disappeared off the bench. Michigan needs to use its depth to win games, but their depth is not always ready to contribute.
Who To Watch:
Depth is always nice, but it is not as important as three-point shooting in this system. Harris, Lucas-Perry, Douglass, Grady and Zack Novak all average between 1.0 and 1.5 three-pointers per contest. The problem is they only connect between 32.0 and 36.6 percent of those attempts. Coach Beilein is not going to stop shooting the long ball, and the Wolverines can beat anybody when the shots are falling, but usually they are not falling. The key for any victories for Michigan during the tournament will be knocking down three-pointers. This is a group that gives up way too many rebounds to have the luxury of shooting just 32.9 percent from beyond the arc.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.5 (173rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.7 (77, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.5 (229, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.0 (208, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.6 (15, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.9 (210, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.4 (13, 1)
Rebound Margin: -2.9 (275, 10)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (43, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (12, 4)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Oklahoma