The Michigan Wolverines (8-0) will head to Illinois to face the Northwestern Wildcats (6-2) on Tuesday in what will be each team’s second game of Big Ten play.
Michigan is looking to stay perfect coming off of a 19-point victory against Purdue in the Big Ten opener. Northwestern is looking to bounce back after a two-point loss at Indiana on Saturday. Here is the preview and prediction for another tough test on the road for the Wolverines…
What: Michigan (8-0) at Northwestern (6-2)
When: Tuesday, December 4th, 9:00 PM
Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern University
Keys to Victory for Michigan: Michigan is off to a blistering start to begin this season. They have won all eight of their games with their closest margin of victory coming against North Carolina when they still managed to win by 17.
Northwestern is very similar to the Wolverines, just less talented. They have a great defense and a reliable offense with four players averaging over 10 points per game.
Michigan has a better offense and better defense so if they shoot the ball efficiently and smother the Wildcats offense they should win by 15+ points in a low scoring game. Their main focus should be on limiting senior forward, Vic Law.
Law is averaging 17.6 points per game while shooting an incredible 44% from three. If Michigan is able to shut down Law, they will be in a good position to win the game. Michigan should look to force Law off of the three-point line where Jon Teske will be waiting for him to defend the rim.
Another key for the Wolverines will be to attack the inside on offense. The Wildcats do not have any true shot blockers and Teske will have a size advantage down low per usual. Putting pressure on the interior of the Northwestern defense will open up outside shots for the rest of the Wolverines including red-hot Jordan Poole.
Poole is 12-16 from deep in the past three games as he continues to be the third scoring option that has made the Wolverines so lethal. Northwestern needs to pay attention to Ignas Brazdeikis and Charles Matthews which will open up a lot more opportunity for Jordan Poole.
If Poole continues his hot shooting and the Wolverines can attack the Northwestern defense, they won’t have any issues moving to 9-0.
Keys to Victory for Northwestern: A big key for Northwestern will be to win the turnover battle by a wide margin. The Wildcats rank 173rd in the nation with over 13 turnovers per game. Michigan however, ranks 5th averaging just under nine per game.
Michigan’s offense thrives when their defense is able to force turnovers and if Northwestern wants to stay in the game they cannot afford to give Michigan easy buckets. On the flip-side, if Northwestern’s defense can wreak havoc and force the Wolverines to turn the ball over they will have a chance to stay in the game.
The best way to score on the nation’s best defense is to force turnovers and get layups and dunks in transition before the defense has a chance to set up. If Northwestern is going to win this game they will need to force close to 15 turnovers while keeping their number under 10.
Another key for Northwestern will be to keep composure when Michigan goes on a run. In nearly every game this season, Michigan’s defense has stifled their opponents for an extended period of time allowing the Wolverines to build a big lead. If Northwestern is going to win, they will need to weather the storm when the inevitable Michigan run begins.
If Vic Law can knock down some threes and score like he has all season it could keep the Wolverines lead within range. As most college basketball fans know, anything can happen in the last five minutes of a game.
If Northwestern wins the turnover battle and doesn’t panic once Michigan starts to go on a run, they will have a shot to win in the second half.
Prediction: The Wildcats have gotten off to an impressive start to this season, but they haven’t played anybody like Michigan all year. Michigan is one of the hottest teams in college basketball and it doesn’t look like anybody is going to stop them soon. At least not on Tuesday.
Michigan will punch the Wildcats in the mouth right off the gate carrying a good lead into halftime. Northwestern will make a few runs early in the second half but ultimately Michigan’s defense will prevail, giving Vic Law fits all night long.
On the road, Michigan will improve to 9-0 winning the game by at least 15 points as they continue their impressive start to the year.
Final Score: Michigan 67 – Northwestern 49