Michigan Basketball: Michigan at Duke — Preview
Big Game Brewing — Michigan Travels to Duke For Big Ten/ACC Challenge Game Tuesday
Michigan is hanging onto a top 20 type of rating and Duke will slide from 6th after losing to an ultra talented Arizona team. None of that matters, what matters is how both teams play in March.
Somehow Michigan State hosts a still developing North Carolina team, Ohio State hosts Maryland and Indiana and UM hit the road facing Syracuse and Duke. The youngsters should enjoy the trip to Durham and the fabled Cameron Indoor Stadium where the patrons will pay between $200.00 and 300.00 for a scalped ticket.Michigan and Duke have some similarities to address before further pursuance. Both teams do not dominate the inside and have moderate trouble on the boards, Michigan more so. Both teams love to get out and run, then if the break opportunity is stopped fire up three pointers with some abandon. Both teams are currently not top-notch on the defensive end, but Duke’s man-to-man fundamentals are more obvious, as is blockout technique. In short, both teams are vulnerable to big teams with an inside game at one end and strong defense at the other. Duke has been beat on cuts more so than usual this year.
Some in the magic kingdom are upset that Duke lost the NIT Championship to Arizona. Right now, Arizona has as much raw talent (and big) as any team in the nation, perhaps excepting Kentucky. It is only early December, but Arizona provides the PAC 12 with its best chance in years to go far in the tournament. Michigan fans will soon see how talented this team is when the Wildcats visit Crisler on December 14.Duke faithful moan about the lack of size inside, but there is no relationship between the Duke front line and the Smurfs. Big-time freshman talent Jabari Parker is 6’ 8” and scored 27 points against Alabama when another 6’ 8” forward, Rodney Hood, became saddled with foul problems. Josh Hairston is also 6’ 8” and like Parker brings 235 pounds of bulk to the floor. Another Plumlee, seven-footer Marshall can come off the bench for size and bulk.
Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins, Raheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thorton provide very good guard play, although turnovers have been a minor concern. This quartet can wear down a team thin in guard play.
So, on the surface, Duke mirrors Michigan in many regards. Both will play man-to-man defense, and both teams have been hurt inside against good competition. Both teams may live or die with the three. In Duke’s case an attempt to get the ball inside will occur whenever possible, in Michigan’s case: not so much. If Michigan allows easy entry, Duke will oblige and take the favor. Duke will attempt to wear Michigan down if the inside game works.
This should not be a slug it out point guard to wing to post type of game. About everything basketball has to offer will be on stage. If it comes down to a grind in the end, Duke has an advantage. Duke has to play that style or else fire threes against good competition. Years ago, at Ann Arbor, Michigan pulled what was thought of at the time as a major upset in defeating Duke. The key factor was Duke going ice-cold from the arc.
This quirky little arena, a near national treasure, is the most famous venue in college basketball and provides more than the usual three point home court advantage. This is where many Big Ten teams have gone to perish.The health status of Nik Stauskas is critical. Zak Irvin had a great game at home against a less talented team and more than made up for Stauskas’ absence. Stauskas has seen the big stage and would seem more capable of adapting to the challenge.
Neither Duke nor Michigan will change style much for this game. Duke will be more patient with the so-called small team of 6’ 8” guys. Michigan will run the normal sets and let the shots fall where they may be. Michigan would be well -served to set up isolation situations to get to the hoop. While not helpless inside Duke is vulnerable, and certainly so is Michigan.
Michigan’s strategy of avoiding fouls may be valuable. There will be no favors given in this arena. Walton and McGary must avoid piling on early fouls that eliminate them from first half play. Duke counts on a big advantage at the line at Cameron to win games.
Robinson may again be the wild card. If he hits his shots and can get to the rim Michigan will be in this game to the end.For once, Michigan may have some advantage inside, and it would be a terrible waste if McGary runs up and down the floor watching his teammates fire quick three after quick three. This is what Duke wants, to force a rhythm that secures a big run that the opposition cannot overcome.
On the other hand, Michigan cutting and slashing to the hoop and getting Duke’s trio of forwards into foul trouble is a bad scenario for the home team.
Poise and offensive execution are the keys to playing at Duke’s level. We will see if Michigan possesses the patience needed to fully run the offense instead of one pass and shoot.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
Go Blue — Wear Maize!