|Who: Harvard (5-1) at Michigan (4-2)
|Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
|When: Saturday, December 4th, 1:00 PM
|Radio: MGoBlue / WTKA (1050 AM)/Sirius Ch. 125
Michigan welcomes former head coach Tommy Amaker back to Crisler Arena for a Saturday matinee versus Harvard. Harvard is 5-1 with a 82-66 beat down of Colorado highlighting their resume. Their strength of schedule is relatively weak thus far but there’s no denying that Amaker has Harvard headed in the right direction. Despite losing Jeremy Lin to the NBA, Amaker’s Harvard squad is picked to win the Ivy League.
For Michigan, it’s home sweet home. After being on the road for the past two weeks, this game is the first of an eight game home stand that will take Michigan into the 2011 calendar year and Big Ten play. On the heels of arguably their best performance of the season, a 69-61 win at Clemson, Michigan will certainly have their hands full with a talented Harvard squad.
- Shooting: Harvard is one of the best shooting teams that Michigan has faced this season. They shoot 52% on twos and 40% on threes for an effective field goal percentage of 55%.
- Defending the Three: Harvard’s opponents are shooting just 27.2% from three point range. This spells trouble for a Michigan team that loves the three point shot but has yet to find a groove shooting them.
- Turnovers: Similar to Amaker’s Michigan teams, Harvard struggles to hold onto the basketball. The Crimson turn the ball over on just under a quarter of their possessions. Michigan hasn’t forced many turnovers this season but this might be a good opportunity.
- Defending the Two: Despite an impressive number of blocked shots, Harvard appears to have a weak interior defense. Opponents are shooting 49% from inside the arc, which ranks 218th in the country.
Players to Watch
- Keith Wright, at 6-foot-8 240 pounds, averages 16 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting 72% from the field. The junior big man will certainly be a strong test for Jordan Morgan’s interior defense.
- 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Christian Webster averages 17 points per game while shooting 44% from three point range.
- Junior guard Oliver McNally is Harvard’s best three point shooter, connecting on 47% of his attempts this season.
- Freshman Laurent Rivard is averaging just under 10 points per game but only shooting 32% from the field – 4 of 16 on twos, 13 of 37 on threes.
This will be a good test for Michigan, who has yet to play quality basketball on a consistent basis. Harvard’s shooting ability will be a challenge for Michigan’s defense, which has been extremely impressive early on. Both teams love to shoot the three, and attempt 43% of their FGs from three point range, but they also do a great job of defending the three. One of the key statistics to watch in this game is who wins the three point shooting battle.
Pomeroy predicts Michigan 66-59 and I’ll go with Michigan 65-63. I have a sneaking suspicion that this one ends up much too close for comfort. Let’s hear your predictions in the comments.