On Friday night, it felt like déjà vu watching Michigan. Every time down the floor in the second half, Xavier would try to attempt a 3-pointer. More often than not, these 3-pointers would drop, but if not, there were Musketeers left and right grabbing offensive rebounds. The Musketeers ended up with 18 of 39 misses for 46%, which is simply inexcusable for a Big Ten team.
This falls on everyone, but it starts with the big men. For reference, here are the rebounding totals for Michigan's big men through three games, with their minutes listed in parenthesis next to the rebounding total: Moritz Wagner, 6 (18), Ricky Doyle, 6 (50), Mark Donnal, 4 (31), D.J. Wilson, 1 (43). Besides for Wagner, who is averaging a rebound per three minutes, the rest of these averages are atrocious. None of Michigan's bigs are playing consistently solid minutes, so this Battle 4 Atlantis tournament should be a great test to see who will play minutes at the 5 and potentially even 4 for the rest of the season. With that, let's break down what Michigan will be faced with for the first few rounds of the tournament.
On Wednesday night, Michigan faces off against a talented, veteran UConn team in the first round. Like most veteran teams, the Huskies are led by their guards, starting with Rodney Purvis and Sterling Gibbs. Purvis, a NC State transfer, has been dynamite this season, averaging 14 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds while shooting 53%. He's only committed three turnovers and has UConn off to an extremely fast start. He plays alongside Gibbs, a Seton Hall transfer who was eligible immediately after graduating, who has been equally as impressive. He's led the Huskies in scoring with nearly 16 per game, and adds 2 rebounds and 2 assists per game as well. The two-headed monster of Gibbs and Sterling make UConn's backcourt one of the very best in the country.
In the frontcourt, Cornell graduate transfer Shonn Miller has been settling in very well. Miller is averaging 13 points, 6 rebounds and is shooting a blistering hot 73% from the floor. His frontcourt partner in crime is Daniel Hamilton, a 6'7 rail-thin wing who is averaging nearly 9 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game. Miller and Hamilton should be a headache for Zak Irvin and Aubrey Dawkins, but is an area where Michigan could take advantage of the Huskies. At center, Amida Brimah is a legit 7-footer who is averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds. Brimah could cause trouble for a Michigan frontcourt still looking for answers, so getting Brimah in foul trouble could be huge for Michigan.
Off the bench, freshman Jalen Adams has looked great in limited minutes this season, Omar Calhoun and Sam Cassell, Jr. have remained steady, and Kentan Facey and Phillip Nolan add depth in the frontcourt. UConn has gone 10 deep all season, and don't be surprised to see the Huskies using a ton of bodies against Michigan as well.
If Michigan can survive a very talented Huskies team, they will get the winner of Syracuse and Charlotte. Starting with the Orange, they sit at 3-0 and beat Elon by 11 in their last game, an opponent Michigan dispatched by 20. They're led by Michael Gbinije, a senior who played for the Nigerian national team this summer and gained tremendous experience. He's averaging 18 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 3 very close games for Syracuse this season. He runs alongside Trevor Cooney, a 3-point specialist for the Cuse who has been at Syracuse since roughly 2008. He's averaged 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in over 38 minutes per game.
The Cuse also play some freshman, including Malachi Richardson, a 6'6 guard averaging 14 points and 4 rebounds. Another freshman, Tyler Lyndon, has solid averages of 7 points and 8 rebounds per game. Tyler Roberson rounds out the impact players, with 9 points and 11 rebounds per year. Off the bench, Lyndon helps, but the rest of the bench has been pretty lackluster. Kaleb Joseph, Franklin Howard and Chinonso Obokoh will all play, but none have averages of more than 3 points per game.
Syracuse's opponent is Charlotte, as Mark Price is in his first season as 49ers head coach. It's been a rough start, as Charlotte sits at 1-2 after losing to Elon and East Carolina and beating Furman. They're led by Andrien White, a 6'3 freshman who has 14 points and 5 rebounds per game thus far. Braxton Ogbueze has played the most minutes, averaging 12 points and 2 assists. Bernard Sullivan averages 11 points as well, and Curran Scott went 11-11 from the free throw line en route to 21 points in their last game.
Neither team poses a huge threat to Michigan if they were to win their first game, but they'll have to get by UConn first. Should Michigan get by both games, my guess is that they'll face Gonzaga in the championship game. The Bulldogs have the best frontcourt in the entire country with Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis, and all three are extremely efficient. This could be one of the toughest games on Michigan's schedule, especially given their inability to rebound.
Overall, the Battle 4 Atlantis is one of the premier non-conference tournaments in college basketball. Playing in the Bahamas is one of the few chances players have to leave the country to actually play basketball, and playing against elite competition only helps a team like Michigan for NCAA tournament games on neutral sites further down the line. Should Michigan somehow win this tournament, look for it to propel John Beilein and his Michigan men.