Michigan Basketball’s Weaknesses Match Up With Illinois’
After losing two of its first three Big Ten games, Michigan has shown some glaring holes. Fortunately, they match up with Illinois’.
There are a few things Michigan basketball has been awful at through the first three games of the Big Ten season, and it’s contributed to the Wolverines getting off to a 1-2 start.
Maybe the good news is Michigan could also be 3-0 at this point. The Wolverines lost by three in overtime to Iowa and then by seven to Maryland. Michigan controlled a good portion of the second half against the Hawkeyes but couldn’t close it out, which is something Michigan teams have had trouble doing recently.
The most troubling statistic in those two losses was defensive 3-point percentage. Maryland shot 66.7 percent (10 of 15) from long range, and Iowa shot 57.9 percent (11 of 19).
Even in Michigan’s lone conference win against Penn State, the Nittany Lions shot 42.1 percent (8 of 19).
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the D-I average is 34.9 percent.
With three opponents making 54.7 percent of their 3-point attempts, Michigan’s defense owns the worst mark in the Big Ten. On the flip side, the Wolverines make a respectable 33.8 percent of their 3-point shots, but it’s not been enough to lift them past two teams already, and this style of team needs to be hitting more anyway.
Fortunately for Michigan, Illinois is not a good 3-point shooting team. Its 27.6-percent hit rate is the worst in the Big Ten. It’s going to be a clash of weaknesses on that end when Illinois has the ball.
Another area where Michigan’s defense has struggled so far is efficiency. Simply put, Big Ten teams have been scoring a lot on the Wolverines, to the tune of 117.5 points per 100 possessions. That’s No. 12 in the conference. (Illinois is the worst with a 120.4 defensive efficiency.)
Seeing as teams have been hitting a high percentage of their 3-point shots and scoring a lot of points, it’s natural then that the Wolverines allow the second-worst effective field goal percentage in the Big Ten (57.5 percent).
Once again, though, this is another area where the Illini probably won’t be able to take much of an advantage, seeing as their offense has the second-worst effective field goal percentage (45.7 percent).
Michigan has to start beating teams like Illinois if it wants to be taken seriously in the hunt for a spot in the NCAA tournament. For Wednesday night, that doesn’t seem like a reach since the Illini aren’t in good position to take advantage of Michigan’s defensive shortcomings.
In the future, though, the Wolverines won’t be without holes in their defense, and other teams are going to have the edge.
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