#1 Purdue (19-1, 8-1 Big 10) vs. Michigan (11-8, 5-3 Big 10)
January 26th, 9:00 p.m. EST
Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Michigan Starting Lineup
|C||1||Hunter Dickinson||Jr||7'1||260||Alexandria, VA|
|F||5||Terrance Williams||Jr||6'7"||225||Clinton, MD|
|F||13||Jett Howard||Fr||6'8"||215||Miami, FL|
|G||2||Kobe Bufkin||So||6'4"||195||Grand Rapids, MI|
|G||0||Dug McDaniel||Fr||5'11"||160||Washington, D.C.|
|C||32||Tarris Reed Jr||Fr||6'10"||260||St. Louis, MO|
|F||42||Will Tchestter||RS Fr||6'8"||240||Stewartville, MN|
|G/F||15||Joey Baker||Sr||6'7"||205||Fayeteville, NC||Duke|
Michigan on Offense
The first thing the Wolverines do exceptionally well: they take care of the ball. They’re sixth nationally in turnover percentage at just 14.4 while Purdue has gradually slipped in the rankings of creating turnovers, but stats are funny and a lot of that is due to Purdue having one of the best possession ratios in college hoops with the second-best offensive rebounding team in the country.
With one of the best centers in the Big 10 not named Zach Edey, Michigan typically sets up with Dickinson posted down low and a slew of talented guards and forwards shallow around the perimeter. Their record is not indicative of their offensive prowess; they rank highly in all but one of their losses have been within seven points. Their adjusted offensive efficiency is ranked 53rd, their effective field goal percentage is ranked a decent 133rd, and they’re above average in three point percentage (133rd at 51.1%) and two point percentage (149 at 50.7%).
A lot of that two point field goal percentage comes from points down low from Dickinson, who outsizes most collegiate centers. Zach Edey is not most collegiate centers. If Edey can go lockdown in the paint against the Wolverines, Michigan will have to rely on mid-range and outside shooting, but I see it being a solid back-and-forth battle down low.
Michigan is also dealing with a few injuries, including the sons of alumnus head coach and accomplished NBA-er Juwon Howard, Jett and Jace.
Jett Howard is listed as day-to-day after an ankle injury. He’s played 69% percent of the floor time at strong forward and in his stead, we’ll likely see more of Joey Baker, a transfer senior who drives well for a bigger guy.
Jett Howard did not practice yesterday and is listed as "day to day."— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) January 25, 2023
Jace Howard and Youssef Khayat were limited in practice.
Michigan’s guards, specifically Kobe Bufkin, are really, really good at dishing the ball inside from spots on the court on which they could theoretically have a relatively open jumper, so to me, this game’s result is dependent on whether or not Dickinson can get the best of Edey inside.
Final thought: Dickinson’s jump hook is great, but it’s going to be a lot harder to splash through into the net over a dude who is three inches taller instead of the usual dude who’s three inches shorter than he.
Michigan on Defense
Since I began saying they don’t turn the ball over, they also don’t create many turnovers with their backs against the basket. Purdue is very careful with the ball. Given the battle between two teams that rebound well offensively behind two dominant centers, Michigan is going to have to steal some possessions.
A lot of their high rankings in rebounds and blocks revolve around Dickinson, who, again, has yet to face a center larger than he in the 2022-23 season. If he can outmuscle Edey, good for him. That’ll be the key to Michigan keeping up with the possession ratio that Purdue has maintained through 20 games. If you keep letting Purdue reset the shot clock, they will likely make you pay.
Michigan doesn’t defend well against cut passes to the paint designated for a driving guard or forward even if a player like Edey is the obvious target. When facing perimeter ball movement with any sort of a threat down low, there always seems to be a winger who gets lost in defensive movement. Especially with a potentially injury-plagued Michigan roster, enough of Purdue’s signature ‘22-’23 ball movement could wear out a defense with three minutes left in the fourth quarter for two teams who are used to playing games that come down to the wire.
X-Factor - Rebounds
Edey has to out-rebound Dickinson. That’ll be the obvious main battle in terms of maintaining or taking possession, but Furst has to help out and I want to see more of those sloppy seconds rebounds from Smith and Loyer.
Purdue - 72
Michigan - 67
Confidence - 69%
Purdue - 69
Michigan - 62
My prediction really depends upon assuming all of Michigan’s regular starters are available, but given that this is a game the will be decided between the two biggest bigs in the B1G, I’m going with the team with the center who somehow outsizes a pretty darn decent (all-be-it obnoxious) 7’1” center. Rebounds and blocks will decide this one.