Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Not in the face, Michigan. Not in the face.
|Who:||Michigan Wolverines (21-4, 8-4)|
After a gut-wrenching defeat that saw the Nittany Lions' best performance thus far in the Big Ten, it now becomes difficult to find a game in which Penn State will have a decent chance at getting their first conference win. And barring a miracle, Sunday's game at Ann Arbor won't be it. Michigan has been a top five team for the majority of the season, and to expect anything other than a blowout win for the hosts (who are coming off their biggest defeat of the season to Michigan State) is bordering on the insane.
Michigan is really good, but you already knew that. To be more precise, Michigan's offense is superb. Penn State played about as well as you could've asked on offense against Iowa, shooting 44% from the field and scoring 1.11 points per possession, their best performance in Big Ten play. Michigan shoots 47% from the field and is averaging 1.13 PPP for the conference season, a figure only bested by Indiana's 1.15 PPP. Simply put, it's unreasonable to expect Penn State (0.87 PPP in the Big Ten) to match that kind of production, especially on the road.
Tim Hardaway Jr has developed into a much more reliable scorer in his junior season under John Beilein. He's only averaging 0.9 ppg more than last season, but he's been much more efficient; Hardaway is shooting 46.8% from the field, up from 41.8% last season--but his new found consistency from beyond the arc has been a huge boost for the Wolverines. The junior swingman increased his 3PT% by 13% from last year to this year, and his 41% clip is good for fourth-highest in the conference.
Nik Stauskas can light it up from three as well. The freshman is second in the conference in 3PT% at an amazing 47.7%. This spells trouble for the Nittany Lions, who have had a tough time defending the three point arc all season. Glenn Robinson III (10.9 ppg) and Mitch McGary (6.3 ppg, team-high 6.0 rpg) round out a highly-productive freshman class for the Wolverines.
D.J. Newbill had his best game in Blue & White against Iowa on Thursday night. His 26 points and 8 rebounds (including 3 three-pointers) set the tone for the Nittany Lions, who played their best game in 2013 but still managed a defeat. Jermaine Marshall had a career-high 10 assists, setting up Sasa Borovnjak time and time again to give the Serbian 14 points, tying his career-best. They'll need similar efforts in order for the Lions to compete with the current fourth-ranked team in the country.
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