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Michigan vs Western Michigan preview/quick thoughts

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012


#3 Michigan v. Western Michigan
Tuesday, Dec. 4
8:30pm ET
BTN
7-0 Record 6-1
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
Wins Marygrove 85-40
Loyola (IL) 81-71
MD-East. Shore 68-51
USF 58-53
High Point 54-53
Oakland 76-72
Losses Cornell 55-63
79.9 Points Per Game 68.1
60.0 Scoring Defense 57.6
206-for-393 (52.4%) Field Goal % 162-for-369 (43.9%)
167-for-403 (41.4%) Def. Field Goal % 138-for-365 (37.8%)
57-for-132 (43.2%) 3-point % 44-for-119 (37.0%)
40-for-130 (30.8%) Def. 3-point % 48-for-139 (34.5%)
90-for-123 (73.2%) Free Throw % 109-for-157 (69.4%)
12.9 FT Made/Game 15.6
37.9 Rebounds Per Game 37.0
29.6 Opp. Reb. Per Game 29.3
14.7 Assists Per Game 12.3
9.9 Turnovers Per Game 12.3
3.9 Steals Per Game 5.0
2.6 Blocks Per Game 3.7
G – Tim Hardaway (16.6)
G – Trey Burke (16.6)
Leading Scorer F – Nate Hutcheson (13.7)
F – Darius Paul (11.7)
F – Glenn Robinson (7.0)
G – Tim Hardaway (5.6)
Leading Rebounder C – Shayne Whittington (8.6)
F – Darius Paul (6.0)
Sitting at 7-0 with their only non-conference road game now behind them, the Michigan Wolverines travel back to Ann Arbor to welcome in-state Western Michigan University to the Crisler Center tonight (8:30pm on BTN). Michigan is starting to get love from across the country, but the Broncos of the MAC continue to fly under the radar despite reeling off six straight victories, including a big 58-53 win at South Florida. Obviously Michigan is expected to win big once again, but Western is certain to put up their best fight under the bright lights. Here are a few things to pay attention to in tonight’s match-up:
1. Stopping Hutcheson and Ball: Western Michigan’s two biggest wins to date have been a 76-72 tilt over Oakland and a 58-53 victory at South Florida, giving them two solid non-conference Ws on the board already. In those two nail-biters, senior 6’7″ forward Nate Hutcheson and 6’8″ freshman forward Darius Paul combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds. In Western’s season-opening 63-55 loss to Cornell, however, the inside-outside duo went for just 17 points and seven rebounds together. Stopping these two on offense will be the difference between a potentially close game on Michigan’s home court and another mid-major blowout.
2. Size: We all already know about Michigan’s added size and depth down low this year, with four guys 6’8″ and above having seen significant minutes, giving them enough girth down low to compete with just about anyone. Western Michigan, however, actually boasts a much bigger starting line-up, running out a 3-4-5 front court that stands 6’7″ (Hutcheson), 6’8″ (Paul), and 6’10″ (junior center Shayne Whittington). Whittington and Paul will barely shoot the ball from deep, doing the majority of their work down low, but Hutcheson takes nearly half of his shots from long range and makes a third of them. Whittington, the starting center, weighs only 220 pounds but is a man in all big man categories, averaging 9.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in just 25.1 minutes per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the field. Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, Max Bielfeldt, and Jon Horford will have to be on their games to prevent another easy inside-shooting night for the opponent.
3. Lackadaisical Play: Michigan seemingly continues to play hard night in and night out, and Beilein is a master of putting the pressure on his own team, but at some point one would think that Michigan may get lazy for a game or two. If that were to happen, tonight would be an easy day to do it. Western Michigan is not a historically significant team and Michigan is coming off wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas State, North Carolina State, and at Bradley, a pretty solid stretch of match-ups that keeps them comfortably in the top five in the country. Western, however, can play some basketball, and a lazy Wolverine squad might be all it takes to threaten an upset. If the Broncos needed any more motivation against a top-five team, what more could they ask for then to play the big dogs in their own state, a team that passed over just about every player on their roster? I think Beilein and the veteran leaders will have Michigan ready, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
Prediction: Western should put up a good fight for one half or so, but Michigan’s speed and fast break will ultimately do them in. The Wolverines’ rebounding has been too good for the Broncos to challenge in that category and Trey Burke is one of the best players in the country. Look for Tim Hardaway, Jr. to bounce back after a little bump in the road at Bradley. Michigan wins it, 72-55.

Non-Conference Preview : Western Michigan

Sunday, August 14th, 2011


Western Michigan
Date Saturday, Sept. 3
Time 3:30pm
TV ABC
Location Michigan Stadium
2010 Record 6-6 (5-3 MAC)
Head-to-Head Michigan 5 – Western Michigan 0
First Meeting 1917
Last Meeting 2009 : Michigan 31 – Western Michigan 7
Returning Starters Offense: 6  Defense: 7

Junior QB Alex Carder leads the Broncos as an All-MAC candidate

Michigan’s first opponent, Western Michigan, brings a solid aerial attack to Ann Arbor, led by a second-year starter at quarterback, Alex Carder. The junior completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,334 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions in his first season as a starter in 2010. Last season, Carder was able to rely on two talented receivers, Jordan White and Juan Nunez, who each racked up over 1,000 yards, but only White remains this year.

White will be a tough man to stop for Michigan’s much-maligned secondary. White, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility due to sitting out the 2006 and 2008 seasons with injuries, caught 94 passes for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, setting the school’s single-season receiving record.

Aside from White, the Broncos will need seniors Robert Arnheim (89 career receptions for 994 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Chleb Ravenell (48 rec., 513 yards, 0 TDs). Ravenell was highly touted coming out of junior college in 2009, enjoying a fine season as the Broncos’ number three wideout, but was forced to redshirt last season with a groin injury.

In the backfield, sophomore Tevin Drake is the leading returning rusher with just 40 carries for 405 yards and four touchdowns, but the Broncos have two other decent backs with experience. Senior Aaron Winchester (92 for 271 last season) and sophomore Brian Fields (56 for 362 and 3 TDs last season). Fields broke out at the end of the season with 107 yards and three touchdowns against Eastern Michigan and 132 against Kent State.

The weakness of the offense will undoubtedly be the offensive line, which ranked 91st in the nation in sacks allowed (30) last season, paved the way for an average of just 126 rushing yards per game, and returns just two starters. One of those returning is Michigan transfer Dann O’Neill, who started last season at right tackle. Aside from O’Neill, only senior left guard Anthony Parker has started more than four games for the Broncos, which could mean big things for Michigan’s experienced defensive line.

Defensively, Western Michigan returns seven starters from a unit that ranked 73rd in total defense (387.8 ypg) and 52nd in scoring defense (23.8 ppg) a year ago. The unit will be lead by senior linebacker Mitch Zajac, who led the Broncos with 97 tackles last season.

Schedule
Sept. 3 at Michigan
Sept. 10 Nicholls State
Sept. 17 Central Michigan
Sept. 24 at Illinois
Oct. 1 at Connecticut
Oct. 8 Bowling Green
Oct. 15 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 22 at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 29 Ball State
Nov. 8 at Toledo
Nov. 16 at Miami (OH)
Nov. 25 Akron

Unlike the offensive line, the defensive line is the unit with the most experience on the team. Senior tackle Drew Nowak is a force in the middle, having recorded 42 tackles last season, including 3.5 for loss. Perhaps the most promising player on the defense is junior defensive end Paul Hazel, who tallied eight sacks last season. A third-team All-MAC performer out of of Miami, Fla., Hazel racked up seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks against Notre Dame last season.

In the secondary, WMU returns two starters, senior safety Doug Wiggins and sophomore back Lewis Toler. Wiggins is  talented player who originally went to Miami as the fourth-rated safety in the country. After transferring to WMU, Wiggins has racked up 102 tackles, three pass breakups and six forced fumbles in two seasons. The star of the secondary, however, is Toler, who led the Mid-American Conference with 14 pass breakups last season and picked off five passes as a redshirt freshman.

Both kicker John Potter and punter Ben Armer return from solid seasons a year ago. Potter hit 10-of-12 field goals and has connected on 72 straight extra points. Armer ranked second in the MAC with an average of 41.2 yards per punt.

Overall, Western Michigan will be a stern test for Michigan in Brady Hoke’s first game at the helm, but by no means should Michigan lose this game. The duo of Carder and White will give Michigan’s secondary fits and be a good test for Troy Woolfolk’s return from injury, but Michigan’s experienced defensive line should be able to get to Carder and keep the Broncos from scoring enough to hand Michigan a loss.

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