Michigan-Virginia Preview

Michigan believes when it gets open looks at the basket, it will

make opponents pay.

It might not get many good looks, however, against Virginia’s

stingy defense.

The 14th-ranked Wolverines look to build on an encouraging

showing at the Maui Invitational on Tuesday night when they visit

the Cavaliers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

After opening the season with three wins over lesser

competition, Michigan’s schedule become considerably more

challenging on its trip to Hawaii. The Wolverines (5-1) opened the

tournament beating then-No. 8 Memphis 73-61 on Nov. 21 before

losing to No. 6 Duke 82-75 the next day. They bounced back from

that tough loss with a 79-63 win over UCLA in the third-place


Michigan coach John Beilein was pleased with what he saw from

his team against three top-tier programs.

“You don’t know how people are going to do when all of a sudden,

the teams and the coaches that you see on television every day, and

all of a sudden, it’s you,” he said. “I really liked what we saw

from there.”

The offense was strong throughout the Hawaii tournament,

averaging 75.7 points on 54.4 percent shooting. Guard Tim Hardaway

Jr. averaged 20.0 points on 50.0 percent shooting and was named Big

Ten player of the week.

Zack Novak scored a career-high 22 points on 7 of 8 shooting

against the Bruins, while the Wolverines shot 61.7 percent and made

7 of 14 3-pointers.

“We were getting good looks,” Novak said. “When we do that,

we’re pretty good shooters and we’re going to knock them


Getting a similar shot selection in Charlottesville could be

difficult as Virginia is known for its stingy defense under coach

Tony Bennett.

The Cavaliers (5-1) are one of the best defensive teams in the

country, holding opponents to an average of 45.3 points and 33.5

percent shooting, but they haven’t faced an offense as strong as

Michigan’s. While the Wolverines were heavily tested in Maui,

Virginia’s schedule has consisted of South Carolina State,

Winthrop, TCU, Drexel, Drake and Green Bay.

Bennett, though, believes his team his fit for stopping


“They’re one of the best teams in the country it appears,” he

said. “You have to be so good defensively. Certainly we need to be

healthy and we’ll need to play at a high level, but our system is

geared to play good teams and we’re going to give everything we’ve


Health could be a bit of a concern, but the Cavaliers expect to

have Sammy Zeglinski available after he appeared to aggravate an

ankle injury with 12:03 remaining in Friday’s 68-42 win over Green

Bay. X-rays were negative and Zeglinski said he was OK.

Zeglinski, who has been slowed by several injuries over his

career and originally hurt his ankle during a scrimmage Nov. 5, was

making his first start of the season.

KT Harrell had started Virginia’s first five games at guard

before moving into a reserve role Friday. He provided the team with

a spark off the bench, scoring a season-best 14 points on 5 of 8


“It’s nice to have a little bit of a scoring punch like KT

coming off the bench,” Bennett said.

This will be the Cavaliers’ first game against the Wolverines

since suffering a 102-65 loss in the regional finals of the 1989

NCAA tournament. Michigan is 2-1 in the series.

The Wolverines defeated Clemson last season in the ACC/Big 10

Challenge after losing their previous four in the competition.

Virginia defeated then-No. 15 Minnesota in last season’s ACC/Big

10 Challenge after losing its last two.