Michigan Basketball Opponent Tracker: Tough Road Ahead for Wolverines

Kevin Minor

With a combined record of 33-8, the nine potential matchups for Michigan over its next five games will provide and early look at where this year’s Wolverines fit in among the nation’s best. Of these nine potential opponents, six are ranked in the AP Top-15, including four in the AP Top-10, seven currently have winning records and four are undefeated.

The Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament alone could see the Wolverines play two top-10 teams on consecutive days, followed by a battle at No. 2 Louisville five days later in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. After that? The Maize and Blue open the rugged conference slate against a 3-1 Iowa team.

Here is a closer look at the challenge that the Wolverines have ahead of them, as well as an update on how U-M’s previous four opponents fared in the past week.

Michigan’s Next Five Opponents (Including Battle 4 Atlantis Potential Opponents):

Combined Record: 33-8

Nov. 27: vs Iowa State (3-1) *Battle 4 Atlantis

Nov. 28: vs Alabama (2-2) or No. 5 North Carolina (4-0) *Battle 4 Atlantis

Nov. 29: vs No. 8 Gonzaga (6-0) or No. 11 Oregon (5-0) or No. 13 Seton Hall (4-1) or Southern Miss (1-3) *Battle 4 Atlantis

Dec. 3: at No. 2 Louisville (5-0) *Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Dec. 6: vs Iowa (3-1)

Nov. 27-29 - The Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament:

Nov. 27 - vs Iowa State (3-1): Following a 80-74 loss at Oregon State Dec. 9, the Cyclones have reeled off two-consecutive lopsided victories over Northern Illinois and fellow Battle 4 Atlantis participant Southern Miss. In its 70-52 win over NIU, Iowa State hit just 3 of 25 three-point attempts (12.0 percent), and responded with another woeful long-range shooting night in a 73-45 defeat USM, making just 5 of 22 three-point tries (22.7 percent). On the season, the Cyclones are shooting just 27.2 percent from beyond the arc, ranking them 300th in the country.

Nov. 28 - vs Alabama (2-2) or No. 5 North Carolina (4-0):

•Alabama ousted previously undefeated Furman 81-73 Nov. 19 to improve to 2-2 in its first-year under the direction of head coach Nate Oates.

The Crimson Tide have controlled the glass the season, snagging at least 40 rebounds in each contest and out-boarding all four foes. Ball security has been a major weakness for the Oates’ squad, which has yielded 21.0 points off turnovers per game this year and ranks a woeful 305th in the country with 23.8 percent of its offensive possessions ending in turnovers.

•North Carolina overcame a sluggish first half to defeat Elon 75-61 Nov. 20 in a game the Tar Heels actually trailed 33-32 at halftime. A common opponent between UNC and U-M, Elon was toppled 70-50 by the Wolverines earlier this season

North Carolina, which scored 85.8 points per game in 2019, has averaged just 76.5 points in four games this year and ranks 152nd in the country in converting 32.9 percent of its three-point attempts. The undefeated Tar Heels have been stingy defensively, however, and have yet to allow more than 65 points in a game.

Nov. 29 - vs No. 8 Gonzaga (6-0) or No. 11 Oregon (5-0) or No. 13 Seton Hall or Southern Miss (1-3)

•After a closer-than-expected 72-66 win over upset-minded Texas-Arlington Nov. 19, Gonzaga returned to its dominant form Nov. 23 with a 77-49 decimation of Cal State Bakersfield. The Bulldogs have won five games this season by 28-points or more, and have not surrendered more than 66 points in a contest.

Senior forward Killian Tillie, who underwent offseason knee surgery, returned to action against UT-Arlington and is averaging 14.0 points. 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his last two games.

•Oregon handled Houston 78-66 Nov. 22 to secure its first 5-0 start since 2016. Senior point guard Payton Pritchard has spearheaded the Ducks success this season, averaging 19.4 points, 5.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game this year. Fifth-year senior forward Anthony Mathis, a graduate transfer from New Mexico, is shooting 64.5 percent from three-point range and averaging 15.0 points per game. UO has also leaned heavily on fifth-year senior guard Shakur Juiston, a graduate transfer from UNLV, and junior guard Chris Duarte, the nation’s top JUCO recruit, for offense. Juiston is averaging 9.8 points per game with Duarte adding 9.0.

•Seton Hall bounced back from its 76-73 loss to No. 3 Michigan State Nov. 14 with two dominant conquests of overmatched opponents. Senior guard Myles Powell scored 26 in the Pirates’ 83-66 win over Saint Louis Nov. 17 and added 23 more in an 87-51 conquering of Florida A&M Nov. 23. Powell has already scored at least 20 points three times this season, and is averaging 22.3 points per game. On the season, SHU is limiting opposing shooters to 36.8 percent from the field, including 29.1 percent from deep, and held the Florida A&M to 29.3 percent shooting—the first time it has held an opponent under 30 percent since 2016.

•Southern Miss was mauled by Iowa State 73-45 Nov. 19 and remains winless against Division I competition this season. The Golden Eagles’ only victory was a season-opening 90-71 win over Division II Delta State.

In its loss to the Cyclones, USM went 0 for 16 from beyond the arc and shot just 33.3 percent overall. In four games this season, Southern Miss is shooting only 22.0 percent from three and has averaged only 59.0 points per game against D1 teams.

Dec. 3 - at No. 2 Louisville (5-0) *Big Ten/ACC Challenge: 

Louisville looked disinterested for large stretches of its 76-50 conquest of USC Upstate—a game that was from lopsided over the first 30-minutes. Up only six at halftime and tied at 43 seven minutes into the second half, the Cardinals went on a 28-4 run over the final 10:42 of the game to pull away and bump its season mark to 5-0.

Junior center/forward Malik Williams, who started the final 20 games for UL last season and led the team with 41 blocks, returned to action against USC Upstate after missing the first four games of the season recovering from a broken foot. Louisville yielded just 62.3 points per game without the services of the paint-protecting Williams.

Dec. 6 - vs Iowa (3-1):

Iowa is currently riding a two-game winning streak, albeit against lesser competition, led by junior center Luka Garza. His 30 points in a 87-74 victory over Oral Roberts Nov. 15 and 29 points in a 83-68 win over North Florida Nov. 21 made him the first Hawkeye to score at least 29 points in consecutive games since 2012. Garza leads the Big Ten in scoring at 23.3 points per game in addition to 10.5 rebounds per game.

In it’s only matchup against high-major conference competition, Iowa was throttled 93-78 by DePaul in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes gave up 53 points in the first half alone, and the Blue Demons shot 61.4 percent from the field for the game, including 55.0 percent from three.

Michigan’s Last Four Opponents

Combined Record: 9-13

Houston Baptist (W 111-68): 0-4

Elon (W 70-50): 2-4 

Creighton (W 79-69): 3-1

Appalachian State (W 79-71): 4-3

Houston Baptist (W, 111-68):

While yielding 111 points may not be a common occurrence in college basketball, HBU (0-4) is no stranger to the feeling of seeing an opponent hit the century mark. In the game prior to its 43-point loss to Michigan, the Huskies surrendered 103 to Texas Tech and have allowed 101.3 points per game over its last three contests—a stretch in which they’ve been outscored by 32.0 points per game.

Elon (W, 70-50): 

Elon (2-4) is in the midst of a four-game skid following a 69-64 loss to Manhattan Nov. 23, with the other three of those losses coming at the hands of Power 5 opponents. After losing 79-69 in Ann Arbor, the Phoenix visited North Carolina and actually led the Tar Heels 33-32 at halftime before UNC pulled away in the second half for a 75-61 win.

Creighton (W, 79-69): 

Creighton (3-1) has won two-consecutive games following its 79-69 loss to U-M, the most recent being a 86-70 triumph over Cal Poly. Sophomore guard Marcus Zegarowski, who scored 18 points against the Wolverines, has scored at least 17 points in every game this season. Aside from the 79 points scored by Michigan, the Blue Jays are allowing just 65.7 points per game.

Appalachian State (W, 79-71): 

ASU (4-3) has won two of its last three games to improve to 4-3. Junior guard Justin Forest, who scored 27 points against the Wolverines earlier this season, has scored 20-or-more points five times this season and is averaging 16.4 points per game.

What have you liked so far from Michigan this year? How do you see them doing over the next month or so? Comment below!!!

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