Nov 21, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein talks with his players during the first half against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan Basketball: Kansas State vs. Michigan -- NIT Pre-Season Championship Tournament -- Preview

Posted at 10:00am — 11/23/2012

Michigan Basketball: Kansas State vs. Michigan — NIT Pre-Season Championship Tournament — Preview

There are similarities in the semifinal games of Kansas State and Michigan on Wednesday night. Both have very successful coaches, both had to scrap for a win at the foul line, and both could have shot better from the floor. This is how it is frequently early in the season.

This game will pit an aggressive and strong Kansas State team against a young, quick, and talented Michigan squad. Forget the rankings: like in the Pitt game, Friday’s game matches two very capable basketball programs.

Nov 21, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber coaches against the Delaware Blue Hens during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Kansas State won the game 66-63. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

Coach Weber plays plenty of Wildcats and the long list contributes to the team scoring. Ten players are currently averaging 4.8 to 11.2 points per game. Coach can go small with four skilled guards of various sizes, or go large (but not monster variety) with big inside players and big guards. In short, the Kansas State roster is versatile and can morph as game needs dictate. This is a luxury many teams do not possess.

The guard play is solid and the three-point shooting is about on par for a major program. The guards are excellent foul shooters, which could give K-State an advantage if leading late in the game. Kansas State’s big 270-pound forward, Thomas Gipson can do some inside damage.

Michigan will again be challenged to stop a decent inside game that can cause damage in the paint and gather rebounds through toughness and bulk. Michigan did a nice job in the same role against Pitt.

Kansas State will probably test Michigan’s inside and outside defense early and see which option produces the best result.

On the Michigan end, defensive basics will again be taught, retaught, and put into game situations. Burke will be challenged by several Kansas State defenders and may have to modify his role if his basic options do not pan out. The bookend swingmen, Robinson and Hardaway, will again be crucial on both ends of the court. Hardaway is playing with confidence and improved play like the skilled veteran he now is. Robinson can make defending Michigan very tough when his shots fall. His presence improves Michigan’s athleticism, size, rebounding, and defense. The scoring is a great bonus.

It will be another opportunity for Wild Thing McGary to get into the flow of a game. Perhaps Coach Beilein will start Mitch’s day Friday with a meditation session.

Stauskas is already contributing more to the overall table than many expected. He may not be the best defender or skilled rebounder, but he can do a little bit of everything and is not a big liability on the floor: to the contrary, he is an asset and appears to love the competition of big stage basketball.

More fun is in store on Friday afternoon.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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