Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Will Michigan Pull the Upset Tomorrow?

It is now approximately 24 hours until the tip-off of Michigan's first game in the NCAA Tournament in 10+ years. #10 Michigan will face #7 Clemson in Kansas City, MO at 7:10 EDT. Michigan is one of 16 teams in the South Region, with North Carolina receiving the #1 seed out of the 16.

There has been much discussion since the brackets were announced about whether or not Michigan stands a chance against the Tigers. Some predict that since Clemson has no inside presence over 6'9, the Wolverines have a favorable match-up -- size-wise at least. Others, however, rely on computer-based models and statistics that predict doom and gloom for Michigan tomorrow. To make this decision for yourself, there are a couple of good previews already available for your reading pleasure.
  • takes a look at the match-up mostly based on the numbers. Clemson appears to be a pretty efficient team on a possession-by-possession basis. Aside from Duke and North Carolina, they were tops in the ACC. Meanwhile, Michigan was 7th in the Big Ten. These numbers seemingly favor the Tigers by a wide margin. Also, Clemson is a lot like the Wolverines in that they love the 3 point shot. In fact, they shoot 38% from the arc, good for 35th nationally. Fortunately, Michigan has been relatively efficient in shutting down opponents' three point shooting as of late.
  • Over at UM, Dylan provides "an early look at Clemson." Good news for the Wolverines here in that Clemson's starting five provides 75% of the scoring and they don't seem to have a deep rotation. Clemson loves to utilize the full court press, so without much help off the bench the Tigers may find themselves tiring out in the second half. Michigan should have enough depth to combat this and get their starters a few breathers here and there while Clemson may be forced to leave theirs on the court. Of course, they probably are all very well-conditioned, but even NBA stars need a break every now and then.
This press scares me to death. Michigan likes to take up a lot of time setting up a good look on offense but will have to burn some of the shot clock worrying about getting the ball over the half court line. We've all seen what happens to the offense when the shot clock is running down. Usually it goes something like this: frantic pass, here you take it, I don't want it, give it to Manny, but he's covered, okay, I'll take the shot from NBA-range with a man in my face, damn, it got blocked. Translation: bad news. Hopefully (and I have faith in Beilein) we can install an effective press break this week to handle the pressure.

Tomorrow will probably be the loooonnnngest day as I'll be thinking about the game from the time I wake up until the tip. Luckily, there are some other earlier games to keep me busy while I wait. The Butler-LSU game should be a good one. I'm going with Butler. The Texas A&M-BYU game will be interesting. I'm taking the Aggies. The Minnesota-Texas game should be fun just because it's Minnesota and it'll be interesting to see how they stack up against opponents from outside the conference. I'm going with Texas in this one, though. Finally, after the Michigan victory, I'll check out the Illinois-WKU game. Bracket hint: here's your 12 over 5 upset for this year.

Go blue from AZ!

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