|Who:||#16 Michigan Wolverines (22-8, 12-5)|
|When:||Today, 1:00 PM|
|Where:||Bryce Jordan Center|
|Radio:||Affiliates, Sirius - CH 92, XM - CH 191|
The last regular season game of the year is upon us. Michigan comes to town with a shot at the Big Ten regular season title if Ohio State beats Michigan State. If you recall, Penn State lost to Michigan way back in 2011 when Bill O'Brien wasn't even a serious candidate for football position. Much has changed since then, but it's not much of surprise how these two teams' seasons have gone.
It's Senior Day, but unfortunately both of PSU's seniors are injured. Billy Oliver's career is over, while Cammeron Woodyard broke his foot at Purdue. Both of them will be honored today before the game. While both players success on the court was limited, the way they handled and led the coaching transition this year with the rest of the players has been admirable and under-appreciated. Without their attitude and hard work, the switch to Coach Chambers could have been much rougher this season. There wasn't a mass exodus, and the team chemistry remained strong thanks to Woodyard's and Oliver's examples. It will tremendously help this program get going in the right direction sooner than later.
|PSU (at home)||Conference-Only||UM (on road)|
In Michigan's 71-53 win in December, Tim Hardaway Jr. dominated the Nittany Lions defense off the dribble, converting 10 of 11 2-point attempts on his way to 26 points. Hardaway has had a solid sophomore campaign (14.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG), but he tends to fall in love with the 3-pointer despite shooting just 25% in conference play. He's had seven 0-fers from three in conference play while taking at least 3 or more attempts in each of those games. If PSU can slow down Hardaway's aggressive and his jumper isn't falling, it could bode well for Penn State.
Trey Burke comes to Penn State for the first time since his decommitment, but he's been an All-Big Ten performer all season long. In a heated competition for Freshman of the Year with Cody Zeller, Burke has been leading the Wolverines in scoring in Big Ten play (15.6 PPG, 4.5 APG). There's no doubt Michigan wouldn't be a contender today if it wasn't for Burke's stellar season.
Evan Smotrycz had a double-double in the first game, but he's really regressed from his hot start in the non-conference season. He's only averaging 19.4 MPG, 4.8 PPG and 3.6 RPG in the Big Ten. Michigan's rotation isn't very deep, but they're experienced and led by senior leader Zack Novak. Novak along with Stu Douglass continue to make big plays on both ends of the floor at the biggest moments. Jordan Morgan holds down the middle with good efficiency, shooting 63.7% from the floor.
Michigan plays Beilein-ball and takes 44.9% of their FGA from behind the arc. Penn State will have to be efficient with their rotations on the defensive end, since they will have to help on Hardaway or Burke off the bounce. Everyone on the floor for the Wolverines is a 3-point threat except Morgan. They aren't a strong rebounding team, but that battle was fairly even in the first contest. However, they are very solid on both ends of the floor in regards to turnovers. They only turn it over on 15.7% of their possessions while forcing 20.3% from their opponents.
Tim Frazier scored 20 points in the first game, but he had to take 18 shots to get it and turned it over 5 times. Jermaine Marshall was saddled with foul trouble in the first half of that game, but he went 3-for-4 for 9 points. They'll need a strong game from Marshall if they hope to upset the Wolverines. Trey Lewis could also play a big role as he looked back in game speed against Purdue. Without Woodyard, Penn State needs any three-point production they can get, and Lewis seems to be the guy with Nick Colella's struggles. Jon Graham and Sasa Borovnjak could also play big roles if they are able to have success against Morgan inside.
KenPom predicts a 63-57 win for Michigan (73% of victory). I'm saying the first to 60 wins.