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Preview: Northwestern at Michigan - Wolverines Likely Without Glenn Robinson III

After Glenn Robinson III injured his ankle against Minnesota, it is uncertain whether the Wolverines' star forward will play on Sunday. Drew Crawford and Northwestern hope to get their first conference win in GR3's absence.

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

By The Numbers:

Northwestern Team Michigan
7-7, 0-1 Record 9-4, 1-0
Unranked Rankings Unranked
156 RPI 63
138 BPI 26
142 KenPom 19
156 Sagarin 16

January 5, 2013 - Crisler Center - Ann Arbor, MI

12:00 PM EST - BTN

Line: Michigan -15


Michigan can't seem to catch a break this season. After losing Mitch McGary indefinitely, Glenn Robinson III hurt his ankle against Minnesota on Thursday. Robinson will be a game-time decision, but all signs point to him sitting out against Northwestern. Zak Irvin and Jon Horford came up big for Michigan after GR3 exited in the matchup with Minnesota, scoring a combined 29 points for the Wolverines. Irvin will likely start in Robinson's place as Michigan goes for their fourth straight win.

Northwestern enters this game after receiving a beatdown from Wisconsin on Thursday. The Wildcats were held to just 14 points in the first half and eventually lost 76-49 to the Badgers. Northwestern has struggled in true road games this year, going 1-2, with the lone win coming against Illinois-Chicago. The story is expected to be similar at Michigan, as the Wildcats are 15 point underdogs. However, center Alex Olah is coming off a 23 point outburst and could take advantage in the post against a GR3-less Michigan squad.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Northwestern Position Michigan
Dave Sobolewski G Derrick Walton Jr.
JerShon Cobb G Nik Stauskas
Drew Crawford G/F Caris LeVert
Sanjay Lumpkin G/F Zak Irvin
Alex Olah F/C Jordan Morgan

Players to Watch:

Nik Stauskas: Stauskas has a favorable matchup against Northwestern, who tends to give up a lot of open threes in their zone defense. The sophomore guard is in a bit of slump, shooting 6 of 17 from deep in his last four outings, but he should be able to find plenty of good looks against NU. Michigan will need Stauskas to put up big points if Glenn Robinson III indeed sits out.

Zak Irvin: Most likely the substitute for Robinson, Irvin hopes to take advantage of his increased role for Michigan. Irvin has had some big games in his freshman season, including a 24 point performance against Coppin State and a 15 point night against Minnesota. He isn't as big as GR3, but that shouldn't be an issue against Northwestern, who's also lacking in size in the frontcourt. Irvin can really contribute by rebounding and helping out defensively for Michigan.

Alex Olah: Olah shot 10-14 from the floor and finished with 23 points in Northwestern's last game. The sophomore center has a significant size advantage against Michigan, as he's four inches taller than Jordan Morgan, and Glenn Robinson may not be there to help on the boards. For the 'Cats to have a shot, Olah will have to not only handle the Wolverines big men, but put in a solid scoring effort.

Drew Crawford: Everything starts with Drew Crawford for the Wildcats. He's the team's leading scorer, leading rebounder, and most importantly, senior captain. Crawford looked a step slow and a bit out of the game against Wisconsin, going 3-11 from the field for ten points. With little production coming from Dave Sobolewski and Sanjay Lumpkin recently, the Wildcats need Crawford at 100% to compete with Michigan.

Staff Comments:

Northwestern Perspective by Jason Dorow (@jasondorow): Northwestern has so little going for them at this point in the season. They lost a heartbreaker to DePaul last Friday, falling 57-56 on a buzzer beater. Then, in a blowout loss to Wisconsin, they played one of the worst halves of basketball you will this season. And many are selecting them to finish last in the Big Ten. But this game is one of Northwestern's few chances to pull the upset. Michigan has lost their two best big men in McGary and Robinson, so the Wolverines should not be able to exploit the Wildcats' lack of size. Michigan shoots more threes than any other team in the conference, which does not bode well for a poor NU defense, but you never know what will happen when you rely on the deep ball. This game very well could come down to who has the hot hand shooting the rock. If Demps, Cobb, and Crawford get in a rhythm, NU has a fair chance. Still, Michigan has a more talented backcourt that could cause problems a struggling Dave Sobolewski. The Wolverines have a slight edge.

Michigan Perspective by Andy Creal: The Michigan Wolverines enter Sunday afternoon’s contest at home against the Northwestern Wildcats bruised but not beaten. All signs point towards star sophomore small forward Glenn Robinson III missing the game for the wolverines with a bad ankle. Robinson’s absence, however, did not prevent this squad from defeating the previously 11-2 Minnesota Golden Gophers on their home floor on Thursday night. The win marked the third win in a row for John’s Beilein’s squad who, despite recent injuries, seem to be starting to find their rhythm. The Wildcat’s, on the other hand, enter this contest under much different circumstances as they try to snap a two game losing streak, including a pummeling at the hands of the #4 team in the nation, Wisconsin Badgers. Leading scorer for Northwestern, Drew Crawford, will need some help as he tries to shoulder the scoring load in the Crisler Center. If indeed Glenn Robinson III cannot go on Sunday the Wolverines will turn to true freshman Zak Irvin in the starting lineup, according to multiple reports. Irvin played well in the Big Ten opener for Michigan scoring 15 points. If the Wolverines can maintain balance scoring, and Jon Horford can contribute down low like he has been recently then Michigan should win this game even without their highest pro prospect.


Jason Dorow: Michigan 75, Northwestern 66

Andy Creal: Michigan 71, Northwestern 65