With no disrespect to Penn State (9-8, 0-4), the Michigan Wolverines should defeat the Nittany Lions Tuesday (Jan. 14) to finish the first portion of the 2013-14 basketball season 4-0 in the Big Ten (and 12-4 overall).
Beginning next Saturday (Jan. 18), the Wolverines must prove their mettle by first traveling to No. 4 Wisconsin (16-0, 3-0), then returning home to face No. 20 Iowa (13-3, 2-1) and finishing the difficult stretch with a date in East Lansing to meet the No. 5 Spartans (15-1, 4-0).
The Badgers, who have already beaten No. 11 Florida, No. 20 Iowa and No. 23 Illinois, have not been kind to Michigan in recent years. Wisconsin, which won both games last season, hasn’t lost to U-M in Madison since 1999 and has won 13 of the last 14 contests.
The Badger’s strategy has always been to keep the score down, hit the three, and crash the defensive glass. Personnel-wise, they are well equipped. This season 6-8, 220 lb. Sam Dekker leads the way with 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Seven-footer Frank Kasminsky is percentage points behind in each category, while Traevon Jackson is the playmaker, averaging 4.3 assists per game.
Wisconsin is 134 of 337 from behind the arc while Michigan is 128 of 334, both around 38 percent.
Statistically, Iowa is off the charts. After an uncharacteristically poor 2012-13 season, the Hawkeyes are back in business. They are 7th nationally in scoring (86.5 points per game), 3rd in rebounds (45.1 per game) and 10th in assists (17.6 per game).
Wolverine fans are probably familiar with former Iowa career scoring leader Roy Marble, who played for the Hawkeyes from 1985-89.
His son, Roy Devyn Marble, is now Iowa’s senior leader. Devyn plays a huge roll in Iowa’s fast break which was on display Thursday in the 93-67 thrashing of Northwestern. “We were outsized at every position,” Wildcat Coach Chris Collins said. “They’re as good as it gets in our conference at pushing the ball and scoring in transition.”
As good as it gets, just might be up the road in East Lansing. When it comes to playing Michigan, Tom Izzo’s teams are always ready.
Despite Michigan winning four of the last six meetings, Izzo’s Spartans have beaten the Wolverines 20 of the last 27 times.
This season, it’s guard Keith Appling who’s running the show while 6-10, 245 lb. Adreian Payne is doing the dirty work.
Should the Wolverines survive this challenge, they need to look no further than Feb. 8 when they take another trip down murderer’s row. This time it’s consecutive battles with Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer