The Michigan Wolverines (10-0) will host the Western Michigan Broncos (5-4) on Saturday hoping to continue their hot start and remain undefeated 11 games into the season.
After four tough games in a row, the game against the Broncos will mark the first of three straight games for the Wolverines against inferior opponents before they continue Big Ten play against Penn State on January 3rd. Here is the preview and prediction for Michigan’s game against Western Michigan…
What: Michigan (10-0) vs. Western Michigan (5-4)
When: Saturday, December 15th, 2:00 PM
Where: Crisler Center, The University of Michigan
Keys to Victory for Michigan:
Michigan is more talented than Western across the board. With superior talent and superior coaching the Wolverines should have no problem handling the Broncos at home. With that being said, this is college basketball and if Michigan comes out flat Western could come out and punch them in the face so Michigan should look to put away the Broncos early.
Jordan Poole has been on an absolute tear lately and if he continues his hot shooting, the Wolverines will win this game in the first half. Over the past four games, Poole is averaging 20 PPG and has shot the ball extremely well. He is making nearly 47% of his threes which is absolutely un-heard of.
The crazy part is, Poole isn’t even the first scoring option. Ignas Brazdeikis is averaging 17 PPG and continues to be the Wolverines’ most consistent player. Brazdeikis has been absolutely dominant at times. If Poole and Brazdeikis are able to get it going early, the Wolverines will cruise to an easy win.
The next key for the Wolverines will be to shut down Western’s leading scorer, the 7’0, 240 pound center Seth Dugan. Dugan is averaging 17.7 PPG along with 10 boards. Although Jon Teske will still have a slight size advantage, this will be a tough test.
Teske has done a great job protecting the rim all season long and he will need to play great individual defense against Dugan in order to keep the Broncos out of this game. If Teske can shut down Dugan, the Broncos won’t stand much of a chance.
Keys to Victory for Western Michigan:
As previously mentioned, the Broncos will be facing better talent on the road against an AP top five team. The odds the Broncos win this game is slim, but if they are going to pull off the upset, it will most likely happen if Jon Teske is off the floor. Michigan lacks depth, especially in the front court.
If Western can get Jon Teske in foul trouble, Seth Dugan should have no problem scoring on Austin Davis or Isaiah Livers.
Another key for the Broncos will be to cool down Jordan Poole. As mentioned, Poole is shooting the ball with extreme confidence. If Western can somehow slow him down, their chances of winning grow significantly. This however, is easier said than done.
If Western can swarm Poole and get him uncomfortable, he will be forced to shoot a difficult shot or will have to pass it off to someone else. Zavier Simpson has really struggled to shoot the three this season, so Western’s guards should be able to help on Poole. They would much rather see Simpson shoot the ball than Poole.
The final key for Western is for someone on their bench to step up. No player on Western’s bench averages more than four points a game. Michigan has a great seven man rotation but beyond their first seven guys, they haven’t had much help this year. If Western can get a double digit scoring spark off of the bench they might have a chance to contend with the Wolverines.
If they keep it close in the second half, anything can happen.
Michigan is more talented than Western at every single position. They have multiple players that can score in a variety of ways and in the end Western won’t have an answer for Brazdeikis, Poole, or Charles Matthews.
Even if they did, Michigan’s defense will pose the biggest challenge Western has faced all year. I expect Michigan to hold Western under 50 points for the first time all season. At home, after a full week of rest, I expect Michigan to roll to an easy victory with many of their younger players getting quality minutes in the second half with the game out of reach.
Final Score: Michigan 77 – Western Michigan 48