When No. 3 Kansas invades Crisler Arena at 4:30 P.M. today on CBS, it'll be a real test for unranked Michigan in its final non-conference game of the regular season.
The Wolverines (11-4,1-2) will face a squad ranked more than 200 spots better in scoring offense and more than 100 spots better in rebounding. The Jayhawks (14-0) sport and unblemished record and have only been severely tested once in a two-point win over Southern California on Dec. 18.
The Michigan offense had a tough night against Wisconsin last time out. Zack Novak had another big night after scoring 15 points against Penn State by chipping in 15 more against the Badgers, but for the most part, the Wolverines were listless in a 66-50 loss.
Keys to the game after the jump.
When Michigan Has The Ball
- Kansas is too talented offensively for Michigan to hope for a game in the 50s or even low 60s. The Wolverines need to score points to stay in this one. Leading scorers Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway Jr. likely must have big days, but so must secondary scorers like Novak, who's stepped up in the last couple games for Michigan.
- It's important that Michigan limit the number of second chances and extra possessions Kansas gets. That means working hard on the defensive glass and limiting turnovers on the other end. The Jayhawks don't need any help scoring and if the Wolverines give them extra shots, they'll be in real trouble.
When Kansas Has The Ball
- Kansas has too many players that can score for Michigan to key on one or two. Six Jayhawks average north of nine points per game and leading scorer Marcus Morris averages only 15.2 points per contest. Michigan will need a real team effort on defense to contain Kansas and have a shot at upsetting this top five team at home.
On paper, Michigan is severely outgunned in this one. Kansas has thoughts of playing for a national championship while Michigan is simply hoping to squeak into the NCAA Tournament. If the Wolverines can knock one or two Kansas scorers off their game, though, they might be able to keep the game competitive late, especially at home. That said, it's still going to take 40 full minutes from the Wolverines to pull this off, and it's going to be very difficult against a team as offensively adept as Kansas.