Who: Michigan (1-0) vs. Houston Baptist (0-3)
Houston Baptist is a member of the new Great West conference. You know, the one who’s tournament champion gets an automatic bid to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT).
Still fresh to Division 1 basketball, Houston Baptist was not a good team last year. They went 5-25 last year with only one win over a team with an RPI better than 300, a 7 point win over Utah Valley.
Judging by early season play, it doesn’t look like they have gotten much better. The Huskies are off to an 0-3 start with losses to South Alabama, Sacramento St., and Rice. Of their six players who started more than 10 games, only one returns to the team this year.
Their offensive statistics aren’t pretty. They are shooting a meager 8.5% from three point range and only 45% from inside the arc for an effective FG% of only 36%. They are also turning the ball over on a whopping 27.3% of their possessions.
Their defense has been a little better. They are allowing an almost respectable .94 points per possession and holding opponents to an eFG% of 42.3%. The interesting news for Michigan is that they are doing a great job of defending the three point shot, allowing opponents to shoot only 18.9% from long range.
Mario Flaherty, the lone returning starter, is the leading scorer for the Huskies. The 6-foot-9 big man averages 13 points and 9 rebounds per game. Andrew Gonzalez provides the scoring punch on the wing. The 6-foot-6 scorer averages 11 points and 4 rebounds per game.
Unlike Northern Michigan, who was content to sit back in a zone, the Huskies love to push the tempo. They averaged 72 possessions per game last year (compared to Michigan’s 64 last year) and are right around that mark through three games this year as well. Mike Rothstein’s article compares the Huskies style of play to Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of hell:
“We’re modifying it to some degree,” Cottrell said. “We’ve always been a very up-tempo team, led the nation in scoring on the NAIA level for three years out of 10 and we’re in the top 10 all the other years.
The last time I wrote a preview this negative was probably last year’s Savannah State game, and we all know how that one turned out. Interestingly enough, both Savannah State and Houston Baptist play an up-tempo pressing style of defense. These games count and none of them can be taken for granted.
That being said, Houston Baptist shouldn’t provide much more of a challenge than Northern Michigan. This is the last cupcake before Michigan heads down to Orlando and dives headfirst into the tough part of their non-conference schedule.
The game is streaming online at BigTenNetwork.com. Early returns on their feed have been overwhelmingly negative.If you are in the area, you can get into Crisler for 2 cans of food and a dollar. Not a bad deal at all. As always, predictions and discussion belongs in the comments.
- John Beilein’s media roundtable from Thursday
- John Beilein Radio Show Tips Off at Pizza House on Dec. 14
Full schedule after the link
- Ben Cronin’s first game for Michigan might be Big Ten opener
This headline says everything you need to know
- NOTEBOOK: Michigan guard Manny Harris heard congratulations all week about his triple-double
Rothstein with some hoops notes on injuries
- The OSU ‘point guard’ turned it over 10 times
The Evan Turner at point guard experiment didn’t work so well against a solid UNC team
- 10 things to know about Houston Baptist
From MGoBlog diaries
- Rough day for the Big Ten. In addition to Ohio State’s loss, Indiana fell to Ole Miss and Penn State lost to UNC-Wilmington.