Meet the Opponent: The Michigan Wolverines


ANN ARBOR, Mich. — There are no easy nights for Purdue now that the Big Ten schedule has kicked in, and Thursday night is no different. The struggling Boilermakers will have their hands full with the powerful Michigan Wolverines tonight in Ann Arbor.

Michigan is 10-4, and all four losses have come in this latest seven-game stretch for them. But don't be fooled by that. Three of those losses were to ranked teams — Louisville, Oregon and Michigan State — plus a loss on the road at Illinois, who's playing as good as anyone right now, as Purdue fans know well after Sunday's 63-37 disaster in Champaign.

Michigan also has the best win of the year, beating No. 1-ranked Gonzaga in November. It's still the Zags' only loss. The game is at 7 p.m. ET tonight and is televised on FoxSports1.

Here are three things to know about the Wolverines.

1. Teske a challenge for Haarms

Jon Teske, Michigan's 7-foot-1 center, is one of the few guys in college basketball who can look Purdue's Matt Haarms in the eye. Haarms, who's 7-foot-3, is having a good year despite missing two games with a concussion, but Teske is a tough matchup for him.

Michigan and Purdue only met once a year ago, and Teske had his way with Haarms, Teske scoring 17 with eight boards while Haarms had just five points on 2 of 6 shooting with two rebounds. Teske and company were able to keep Haarms out of the paint, limiting him to just three shots near the hoop. 

Teske is averaging a team-high 14.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Wolverines. Their games are similar at times, so this will certainly be the matchup of the night to keep an eye on.  

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Michigan's Jon Teske (left) got the best of Purdue's Matt Haarms in the one meeting last year. (Mandatory credit: USA TODAY SPORTS)

2. Tough at home, especially against struggling teams

Purdue is exactly that right now, a struggling team at 9-6 and 2-2 in the league, as evidence by the Michigan guy's Big Ten Power rankings, which has Purdue 12th. The Boilermakers, like most teams, have struggled in Ann Arbor, winning just once in their last six trips to the Crisler Center. 

Michigan won 76-57 a year ago, but that was a Dec. 1 game in that early Big Ten window when the Boilermakers were struggling, getting off to a 6-5 start.

Michigan is 18-2 in its last 20 Big Ten home games. The Wolverines beat Iowa to open the conference season. (They've lost both road games). 

3. Veteran team helps out first-year coach

Former Fab Five legend Juwan Howard is the new head coach of the Wolverines, replacing John Beilein, Howard, who went 3-1 against Matt Painter as a player in the early 1990s, inherited a veteran team.

Point guard Zavier Simpson is one of the best in the business. He's averaging 8.9 assists per game, which ranks No. 2 in the country. He's also scoring well, averaging a career-high 11.2 points per game. Thursday will be his 131st consective game for Michigan. 

Michigan will miss forward Isaiah Livers, who's been out since late December with a groin injury.