Michigan-Oregon Preview

BY foxsports • November 23, 2014

While Michigan lost plenty of talent to early NBA departures, Oregon's top scorer is back and off to a hot start.

The loss of scoring is yet to impact the No. 19 Wolverines, but it could Monday night in Brooklyn when they take on the Ducks and Joseph Young in the Legends Classic.

Michigan (3-0) lost underclassmen Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary to the draft, yet has mostly coasted through its first three games with Zak Irvin joining Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert in leading roles.

Thursday's 71-62 home win over Detroit was Michigan's first close game, and it featured a team-high 21 points from LeVert. The junior is averaging 15.7 this season after emerging with 12.9 in a supporting role as a sophomore.

Irvin had his worst shooting game, going 6 for 16, but managed 18 points and leads the team with 20.7 per game on 53.7 percent shooting in his first three as a starter.

Walton, LeVert's fellow returning starter, is averaging 17.7 points on 51.9 percent shooting in his sophomore campaign after not being asked to do much offensively in his first season in Ann Arbor.

He's also being asked to play alongside fellow point guard Spike Albrecht at times, and the two-point guard attack was part of what distanced the Wolverines from Detroit after falling behind 34-30 early in the second half.

"I think the most important thing is just our experience," Albrecht, a junior, told the school's official website. "This being my third year, I'm pretty old now. We both know the game, we know coach (John) Beilein's system, we know what he wants. The freshmen are still trying to learn the system and pick things up, and right now coach Beilein just trusted me and Derrick out there."

Oregon (3-0), meanwhile, continues to look to it's top scorer from a season ago who elected to stick around for his senior year.

Young, the Pac-12's top returning scorer after averaging 18.3 points in his first season with Oregon, has gotten off to a particularly strong start. He's scoring 26.0 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting and has hit all 18 of his free throws.

In Friday's 78-68 win over Toledo, Young had a game-high 24 points, while forwards Elgin Cook (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Dwayne Benjamin (11 points, 12 rebounds) each had their first double-doubles of the season.

"We're off to a good start here," coach Dana Altman told the team's official website. "It's only 10 percent of our schedule, so we've got a long ways to go, but it's a good start."

It's amounted to 89.3 points per game and a 23.0-point average margin of victory, but Young said things can improve defensively.

"We're good on offense, but we're better on defense and that's our plan," Young said. "That's what we're harping on, and coach is getting on me about. We need to be a better defensive team, and we're going to take it from there."

It's particularly true on the perimeter, where opponents have connected on 40.5 percent of their 3-point attempts. Michigan has lived outside with a 45.9 percent mark to start the season.

Michigan holds a 3-0 advantage in the series, but the teams haven't met since 2003-04.

Oregon has dropped four of its last five against Top 25 teams, while Michigan is 21-2 against unranked opponents dating to Nov. 29 of last season.

The winner will face No. 12 Villanova or No. 14 VCU in Tuesday's championship, while the losers will precede them in a consolation matchup.