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Posts Tagged ‘NC State’

Your bye week Saturday viewing guide

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Michigan’s second bye week in four weeks provides another great chance to relax, get your fall yardwork done, and ultimately get ready for the final five-week stretch of the season. All five of the next Saturdays feature big-time matchups for Michigan, each of which is a must win if the Wolverines want any chance of winning the Big Ten this season. This stress-free Saturday sets up nicely to scout each of the five teams Michigan has left on its schedule with a nice slate of games. Here’s your viewing guide.

Early games

At noon, two Big Ten games are worth at least casually keeping your eye on. They won’t necessarily be good games, but three of the four teams involved are among Michigan’s next four opponents. Iowa hosts Northwestern (12pm, Big Ten Network) in a battle of 4-3 squads. The Wildcats began the season 4-0 and battled Ohio State punch-for-punch in Evanston, but a combination of factors including injuries to several of their top playmakers have them reeling with three straight losses. Suddenly, one of the Legends Division favorites from the beginning of the season is now relegated to playing spoiler.

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Following the Iowa game, Northwestern has Nebraska, Michigan, and Michigan state in three consecutive games before finishing the season at Illinois, so beating Iowa is a must-win for the Wildcats to be assured of bowl eligibility. But that’s easier said than done in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes won the last matchup at home and are always tough to beat at home, especially in late fall when the wind starts whipping.

Iowa has shown to be pesky this season, playing Michigan State and Ohio State tough each of the last two games, so while neither of these teams is likely to win the Legends, Michigan will have to get through both of them – on the road – to have a chance.

The other noon game to keep an eye on is #24 Nebraska at Minnesota (12pm, ESPN). The Cornhuskers may be the Legends Division favorite at this point, but as Derick described on Wednesday, they have beaten just one team this season that has a winning record (4-3 Wyoming). The other four have come against winless Southern Miss, FCS school South Dakota State, and Big Ten bottom feeders Illinois and Purdue. The one team with a pulse Nebraska has faced, then-16th ranked UCLA, stomped the ‘Huskers 41-21 in Lincoln.

Minnesota is coming off a big win at Northwestern with head coach Jerry Kill taking a leave of absence. The Gophers likely don’t have enough in the tank to hang with Nebraska, but after last weekend’s big road win they’ll at least be playing with confidence.

Outside of the Big Ten there aren’t really any other big early games worth watching. Wake Forest vs #7 Miami (12pm, ESPNU) and #16 Texas A&M vs Vanderbilt (12:21pm, ESPN3) are the only others even remotely good, the latter because the Aggies are a potential bowl opponent.

Afternoon games

The afternoon slate features a few games worth watching, most notably Michigan State at Illinois (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2), only because the Spartans are Michigan’s next opponent. It’s not likely to be much of a battle as MSU’s top-ranked defense should be able to handle Illinois’ offense that was held to just 25.5 points per game against Nebraska and Wisconsin the past two weeks. Conversely, Michigan State’s offense, which hasn’t been much to talk about this season should be able to move the ball and score against the Illini’s 98th-ranked scoring defense which allows over 32 points per game. The Spartans shouldn’t have much trouble beating Illinois, but it will be a good chance to get acclimated with them if you haven’t seen them play yet this season.

Outside of the Big Ten will feature a few solid matchups worth paying attention to. Tennessee visits #1 Alabama (3:30pm, CBS), #2 Florida State hosts NC State (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2) and #9 Clemson visits Maryland (3:30pm, ESPN). Tennessee isn’t likely to pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa, but the Vols have shown some fight this season under Butch Jones, including last week’s win over #11 South Carolina and taking then-#6 Georgia to overtime earlier this month. Similarly, Florida State shouldn’t have trouble dispensing of NC State, but an unranked Wolfpack squad has beaten a ranked FSU team four times since 2005, including a 17-16 upset last season. Florida State is coming off a huge primetime win at Clemson and faces #7 Miami next week, so this could be a classic trap game. Finally, the team that was on the losing end of that Florida State win last Saturday, Clemson is licking its wounds as it travels to College Park to face a 5-2 Maryland squad. The Terps, however, were blasted by FSU (63-0) and last week by Wake Forest (34-10).

Another one to at least flip over to during commercial breaks is #10 Texas Tech at #15 Oklahoma (3:30pm, FOX). The Red Raiders are a surprising 7-0 and the Sooners’ only loss of the season was two weeks ago at the hands of Texas. Both of these teams are potential bowl opponents if Michigan either gets a BCS at-large bid or limps through the rest of the season falling to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

Evening games

The evening set of games features several ranked foes squaring off. The one that most pertains to us is Penn State at #4 Ohio State (8pm, ABC). The Nittany Lions had a week off last week after beating Michigan, while Ohio State got an unexpected fight from Iowa. With two weeks to prepare, could Penn State pull off a big upset in Columbus? The big play threat of Christian Hackenberg throwing to Allen Robinson and the rest of Penn State’s receivers is sure to test Ohio State’s beleaguered secondary, but the Buckeyes will look to put pressure on the freshman quarterback. Expect a close game in what’s likely to be Ohio State’s final test before visiting Ann Arbor on Nov. 30.

The biggest battle of the day will be #12 UCLA at #3 Oregon (7pm, ESPN). The Bruins lost to 13th-ranked Stanford last week and will be looking to bounce back in Eugene against the high-powered Ducks.

Two other games feature battles of ranked teams: #21 South Carolina at #5 Missouri (7pm, ESPN2) and #6 Stanford at #25 Oregon State (10:30pm, ESPN). Missouri is the surprise of the SEC this season, but a team many feel is overrated at fifth in the BCS standings. South Carolina is coming off a disappointing loss at Tennessee, looking to pull off an upset of its own and stay in the SEC East race. Stanford got upset by Utah two weeks ago and now finds itself a game behind Oregon State and Oregon in the Pac-12 standings. If UCLA is able to upset the Ducks, this game could either put Oregon State in the conference lead or leave a three-way tie, and both teams still have to play Oregon in the final month of the season.

Michigan 79 – NC State 72: Stauskas’ hot shooting leads Michigan

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Final 1st 2nd Total
#3 Michigan 43 36 79
#18 N.C. State 36 36 72

From the start of Tuesday’s Michigan-North Carolina State ACC/Big Ten Challenge battle, it was evident that Michigan had yet to play a team of the Wolfpack’s caliber. On the very first possession of the game, Matt Vogrich threw a careless pass that got stolen and thrown down on the other end by Lorenzo Brown.

Over the next five minutes, the two teams traded baskets until the 14:57 mark following the first TV timeout, when N.C. State star C.J. Leslie made a nice mid-range jumper to take a 10-9 lead. Something felt different. Michigan, who has hardly been challenge yet in the young season, was in for a dogfight.

Within one minute, however, Tim Hardaway, Jr. scored five points to give Michigan a small cushion, a cushion that in the end proved large enough for Michigan to not relinquish.

Nik Stauskas led all scorers with 20 points (Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

Throughout the final 15 minutes of the first half, the Wolverines kept themselves five to nine points ahead of the Wolfpack behind the uncanny shooting of freshman Nik Stauskas. Hardaway, Jr. poured in 11 points in the first half and finished with 16 to continue his season’s prolific pace, but it was the Canadian newbie that stole the show with a dazzling display of shooting and slashing. Stauskas dropped 13 in the first half with three hand-in-his-face three-pointers, a nice lay-up in traffic, and a pair of free throws after drawing contact in the lane. He finished the game with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, 4-of-7 from downtown, and 4-of-4 from the line in 33 minutes of time as Matt Vogrich got into early foul trouble and looked out of place for the majority of the game.

Stauskas has simply out-played even the most unreasonable expectations for him through six games. At this point he not only has to be considered the best shooter on the team, he has proved that he can snipe with the best in the country. Stauskas’s 95-plus percent free throw shooting mark is icing on the cake, and his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket shows his ability to be a complete scorer, someone capable of taking over a game and carrying his team to victory.

With a seven point lead heading into the half, things were certainly looking up for Michigan, and a fast start out of the gates looked like it would put an end to N.C. State’s hopes early on. And while the first half belonged to Stauskas and Hardaway, Jr., All-American Trey Burke showed why he is one of the very best players in the country in the second stanza.

Burke’s nine first half assists went largely unnoticed due to the show put on by the other Wolverines, but his 18 second half points, including a number of deep clutch threes, were simply too hard to ignore. The floor general’s final line of 18 points (5-of-9 FG, 3-of-5 3PFG, 5-of-8 FT), a career-high 12 assists, two steals, one block, and zero turnovers is almost too good to be true. Stauskas, Hardaway, Jr., and Glenn Robinson III have been so impressive this year that Burke has almost flown under the radar, but his success so far cannot be over-stated. He is unquestionably the man that gets things running, the calm and cool point guard that always seems to get the job done in the biggest situations.

So while Burke was busy proving why he is an All-American in the second half and Michigan was coasting to a 15-point lead, North Carolina State seemed to be down for the count, but there was some fight left in the preseason ACC favorite.

Leslie was terrific throughout, using his long and lanky frame to find his way to 16 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals while leading a furious late rally that saw the Wolfpack cut Michigan’s lead to five points with 2:11 left. Leslie appeared to be ready to take over the game with a variety of quick spin moves and dunks on Michigan’s bigs, and his 12 second half points were key in the comeback, but a late controversial charge was called against him that all but sealed the deal for Michigan. The 10-0 run North Carolina State put together from the 5:42 mark to the 2:11 mark gave the Wolfpack faithful hope, but another nifty Hardaway, Jr. lay-up stopped the bleeding for Michigan and the charge call within the final minute gave Michigan its first signature victory of the season.

Mitch McGary added 8 points and 5 rebounds (Tony Ding, AP)

As Michigan continues to win and climb the charts, the hype becomes harder and harder to ignore. There are few remaining non-conference games that should even pose a threat to Michigan’s undefeated record, and while John Beilein and company are obviously continuing to stress a one-game-at-a-time approach, it’s hard for onlookers to not think about what might be later this season. Many are talking about this team as a national title contender, and though that talk is probably premature and would have been absurd just two years ago, Michigan has shown so far that it will be a very difficult out for any team.

The balance that Michigan displays on offense with at least four players that could conceivably lead the team in scoring on any given night is scary for opposing coaches, and when Michigan’s dominant rebounding thus far is thrown into the equation, there are very few teams in the country on the same level as the Wolverines.

The difference in tonight’s game came down to three stats: three-point shooting, free throws, and turnovers. They may not always be the first numbers that fans look at, but some combination of these three factors will determine the majority of college basketball games. Michigan made seven more threes and shot 12.5 percent better from downtown than N.C. State (37.5% to 25%); made 10 more free throws and shot 13.3 percent better from the charity stripe than N.C. State (80% to 66.7%); and turned the ball over seven fewer times than N.C. State (six compared to 13). The Wolfpack held an edge in both field goal shooting and rebounding, but Michgian won the categories that decided it.

A trip to Peoria, Illinois looms this Saturday for the Wolverines as they will take on Bradley, another team that should turn into a victim.

There comes a time when there is not much to say about a team being so good, and I feel like that time is near. The first ranked team of the year came to Ann Arbor and left with a loss. They certainly won’t be the last.

Final Game Stats
01 Glenn Robinson III* 3-5 1-2 4-4 2 5 7 2 11 0 2 0 0 32
52 Jordan Morgan* 3-5 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 0 6 0 0 1 0 23
03 Trey Burke* 5-9 3-5 5-8 0 0 0 1 18 11 0 1 2 37
10 Tim Hardaway Jr* 7-18 1-9 1-2 0 3 3 3 16 0 2 1 1 36
13 Matt Vogrich* 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 5
02 Spike Albrecht 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 6
04 Mitch McGary 3-4 0-0 2-2 1 4 5 1 8 0 1 1 0 19
05 Eso Akunne 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
11 Nik Stauskas 6-10 4-7 4-4 0 2 2 0 20 1 0 0 0 33
15 Jon Horford 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
Totals 27-54 9-24 16-20 7 18 25 9 79 14 6 4 3 200
N.C. State 32-56 2-8 6-9 9 22 31 18 72 14 13 5 5 200

Michigan vs NC State preview/quick thoughts

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

After taking home the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship over Thanksgiving last week in New York, the Michigan Wolverines return to Ann Arbor tonight for their much-anticipated ACC/Big Ten Challenge match-up with the North Carolina State Wolfpack. While Mark Gottfried’s team was tripped up in its own preseason tournament by Oklahoma State, they are supremely talented and were projected to win the ACC by the experts before the season started. Tonight’s game at the Crisler Center (7:30pm on ESPN) will be seen by many on national television and headlines the 15th Challenge. Here are a few things to make note of as you watch:

#3 Michigan v. # 18 North Carolina State
Tuesday, Nov. 27
7:30pm ET
5-0 Record 4-1
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
Wins Miami (Ohio) 97-59
Penn State 72-55
UMass 94-76
UNCA 82-80
Losses Oklahoma State 56-76
812 Points Per Game 80.2
56.4 Scoring Defense 69.2
153-for-286 (53.5%) Field Goal % 147-for-285 (51.6%)
109-for-297 (36.7%) Def. Field Goal % 122-for-317 (38.5%)
41-for-93 (44.1%) 3-point % 31-for-76 (40.8%)
32-for-106 (30.2%) Def. 3-point % 35-for-110 (31.8%)
59-for-82 (72.0%) Free Throw % 76-for-124 (61.3%)
11.8 FT Made/Game 15.2
41.6 Rebounds Per Game 38.2
27.6 Opp. Reb. Per Game 35.6
14.6 Assists Per Game 13.4
10.0 Turnovers Per Game 13.8
3.6 Steals Per Game 6.8
2.4 Blocks Per Game 2.4
G – Tim Hardaway (18.4)
G – Trey Burke (16.2)
Leading Scorer F – T.J. Warren (14.8)
F – Richard Howell (14.6)
F – Glenn Robinson (7.6)
G – Tim Hardaway (6.8)
Leading Rebounder F – Richard Howell (8.4)
F – C.J. Leslie (7.0)

1. Stopping the Stars: Michigan has been extremely impressive thus far, shutting down teams from the likes of Slippery Rock and IUPUI to Pittsburgh and Kansas State last week, and while the latter wins were a little closer, there never seemed to be much doubt as to the outcome of any of the Wolverines’ five victories. That could change tonight, as North Carolina State will certainly be the most talented team to date to challenge Michigan. Mark Gottfried has established a squad that, while not incredibly deep, is extremely talented and very balanced. Junior 6’9″ forward C.J. Leslie was the talk of the ACC coming into the season and is one of six players on the squad to average between 10 and 15 points per game. Leslie’s long, lanky frame makes him an excellent rebounder, as he grabs seven per game, but his 10.8 points per game are a little bit lacking compared to preseason expectations. For the Wolfpack, that hasn’t been a big concern, however, as superstar freshmen Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren have been spectacular, averaging 10.8 points, three rebounds, and two assists per game and 14.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, respectively. Senior Richard Howell has emerged as a big that can rebound (8.4 per game in just 24 minutes) with the best of them and junior Lorenzo Brown is simply filling the stat sheet up with 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game; his downfall is in turning the ball over 4.4 times per game and in shooting under 35 percent from the field. The problem such a diversified attack poses is in help defense. Michigan will need to play great man-to-man defense with as little help as possible. The 1-3-1 zone will certainly be utilized on occasion, as only two NC State players have attempted more than 10 threes (Purvis and sharpshooter Scott Wood).

C.J. Leslie and the other big men will put pressure on Michigan inside

2. Packing it in: North Carolina State isn’t the biggest team in the world, starting only two guys 6’8″ or above and rotating in only one more 6’8″ big, but they are strong inside and will attempt a vast majority of their shots as close to the basket as possible. Michigan has been dominant on the glass so far while the Wolfpack have been average, so that shouldn’t be a big problem for the Maize and Blue, but Michigan big men Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary will need to be careful about not fouling. We saw them both get into major foul trouble against Kansas State, and while Jon Horford presents a spectacular option for a third big, Michigan will want to run with a couple big guys for at least a quarter of the game. The zone should be a big part of the game plan to force the ball around the edges and make it tough to get inside, but Leslie, Purvis, and Brown can all get to the rack. Michigan needs to be sure to play tough inside defense without fouling. The Wolverines also need to be mindful of Purvis and Wood on the outside, as they shoot 58.8 percent and 44.8 percent from downtown, respectively, while being aware that few others pose deep threats.

3. Protecting the Rock: The Wolfpack’s Achilles heel so far this year has been in taking care of the ball. They turn the ball over a whopping 14 times per game, and while they like to run the floor and shoot often, scoring 80 points per game, John Beilein is going to do everything in his power to make this game into a half court battle, where Michigan should thrive. If North Carolina State is careless with the ball early, their struggles of late should continue. They barely inched past a now 1-5 UNC-Asheville team 82-80 because they turned the ball over 19 times. Michigan’s fast break and shooting have simply been too good to give them free possessions and still expect to win. The Wolverines are turning the ball over only 10 times per game. A few extra possessions could go a long way for either team.

Prediction: While this will be the toughest test yet for Michigan, the home crowd should give the Wolverines a solid advantage and will propel them to another double digit victory. Tim Hardaway, Jr. has unstoppable all season and has been cleared to play after a scary collision against Kansas State last Friday. His contributions alongside Trey Burke and freshman revelation Nik Stauskas should be too much for the Wolfpack to handle. Michigan does their part for the Big Ten as the conference takes home a fourth straight victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, winning 76-65.