Michigan basketball looks to improve to 3-0 on the season against St. John’s. Here are three keys and a prediction.
It’s always exciting when Michigan basketball is playing in the Garden. The Wolverines have won a Big Ten championship in the World’s Most Famous Arena and tonight, we’re going to find out a lot about the 2023-24 version of Michigan basketball.
The Wolverines have looked spectacular during two buy-game wins over UNC-Asheville and Youngstown State. Olivier Nkamhoua has been spectacular averaging 21 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while shooting 78 percent from the field, including 40 percent from 3-point range.
Dug McDaniel is also averaging 18 points per game, dishing out six assists, and turning it over just two times per game. However, we’ll see what that looks like against Rick Pitino and St. John’s.
Michigan baskeball is ranked 34th according to the Kenpom rankings. St. John’s is 60th and here are three keys and a prediction.
Nkamhoua needs to shine again
There’s a head-to-head matchup that could decide this one and that’s Nkamhoua against Chris Ledium. These guys will likely be guarding each other for most of the game.
Ledlum is a Harvard transfer and Michigan basketball actually pursued him in the transfer portal. I don’t expect Nkamhoua to dominate this matchup like the previous two, but seeing him post a double-double would make me feel much better about the Wolverines’ chances of winning.
What’s great about Nkamhoua is that he can score in the post, he’s a great finisher and rebounder, plus he shoots the ball really well. That’s going to make him tough to completely stop. His defense has also been impressive but I want to see how he does in a high-major matchup.
Watch the turnovers
The Wolverines have done a solid job through two games with just 10 turnovers per game. But St. John’s is likely going to try and pressure the Wolverines.
Dug McDaniel has taken a huge step forward so far this season. But Michigan basketball is still a little light on ball handlers.
St. John’s will likely try to press because Rick Pitino has always liked to pressure other teams. We’ll see how that plays out but if Michigan can keep the turnovers in single digits, that will be huge.
Keep St. John’s off the glass
St. John’s has a couple of really good rebounders in Joel Soriano, who is averaging 12 rebounds, as well as Ledulm who had 13.
With Tarris Reed, Nkamhoua, Terrance Williams, and Tray Jackson, the Wolverines should be able to hold their own on the boards. Their defense, especially against ball screens will need to hold up and this will be the first true test to see how improved Michigan is on at the end of the floor.
On both ends of the floor really. I can’t wait.
Michigan vs. St. John’s prediction
As far as the prediction, I feel like Michigan is better than people realize. Vegas gives the home team a slight edge and that’s not surprising. This should be a close game, but I think Michigan has the two best players on Monday night, which leads to a 71-66 win.