NCAA tournament team previews: Michigan Wolverines
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 25-7, 15-3 in Big Ten
Adjusted offense/Adjusted defense: 122.3 (3rd) / 101.6 (104th)
Seed: No. 2 in Midwest
Key player: Nik Stauskas, sophomore guard, 17.5 ppg, .483 FG%, .445 3P%
The Case For:
The Wolverines won the regular season championship in the Big Ten, the conference deemed the country's best by KenPom. They had 11 top-50 wins and 16 top-100 wins and had no trouble succeeding away from Crisler Arena. They won at Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska and Minnesota, and also beat the Buckeyes and Stanford on neutral courts. Nik Stauskas, the Big Ten player of the year, rightfully gets a ton of attention because he's the type of player who can carry a team for six straight games, but Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III are both capable of doing the same on a given night.
When Michigan is at its best, there are few defenses that can stop it. The Wolverines had the No. 8 effective field goal percentage, No. 13 three-point percentage and No. 22 two-point percentage in the country. They also had the 13th-best turnover percentage, so they truly do make the most of their possessions.
The Case Against:
If and when Michigan loses in the tournament, it will almost certainly be because of its defense. The Wolverines allowed opponents to make 50.4 percent of their two-point field goal attempts this year. They were 170th in effective field goal percentage defense and 240th in turnover percentage. Clearly the Wolverines can put the ball in the hoop with any team in the country, but clubs that can hang with them offensively could be a problem. Michigan is among the best in the country with a 76.1 free throw percentage, but its free throw rate ranked 291st out of 351 Division I programs. In those high-scoring affairs, easy points from the stripe can make the difference, and the Wolverines simply don't get there with enough regularity.
Duke also lurks as a potential opponent in the Sweet 16. Michigan is probably going to have to score it at a high rate to get by the Blue Devils, who are one of just two teams to rank better than the Wolverines in adjusted offensive efficiency.
SI prediction: Beat Wofford in second round, beat Arizona State in third round, lose to Duke in Sweet 16View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts