Four years after Payton Pritchard’s late-game heroics led to an overtime victory at the Crisler Center, Michigan heads to Eugene for the return leg of its home-and-home series with Oregon (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., FS1).
That 2019 matchup was a battle of top-25foes coming from a hot start to the year. This year’s rematch is a clash of teams trying to figure it out on the fly and play their way through a rough patch. Both Michigan and Oregon are trying to fix their defenses, and both programs are coming off of a rough week at their tropical preseason tournaments.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said on Thursday. “Defensively, in the tournament, we didn’t play very well. Exchanged baskets a lot. Some of its rim protection, some of it just not tough enough in certain spots. Disappointed with the defensive effort, but I thought we moved the ball and scored some points. Defensively, we’ve got a long way to go.”
Michigan has already faced a number of different early tests this season — first road game where no one knows anything, first multi-team event, etc. — but this weekend’s game is the closest thing to a conference game, and not just because Oregon will be in the Big Ten next year. The Wolverines have an extended prep, there’s enough data on film to get a good scout, and the stakes are high. Not to mention, there are a pair of Big Ten games following next week.