It’s funny how things work out.
Michigan had their shot to clinch a share of the Big Ten conference championship and a bye in the first round of the conference tournament, but ultimately failed at home to Indiana, dropping them a five seed. Their first opponent is one that they are quite familiar with.
The sixth-ranked Wolverines (25-6, 12-6 B1G) face a Penn State team (10-20, 2-16 B1G) that has given them fits twice this year, evening winning their last match-up in Happy Valley.
Their last game against PSU was the most distressing loss of the season by far. Leading by 15 halfway through the second half, the Wolverines collapsed and gave Penn State their first conference win of the season.
A big reason for the Nittany Lions’ success against Michigan is the production from their backcourt. The combination of DJ Newbill and Jermaine Marshall, had a field day against the Wolverine defense from the perimeter. They have to be better against these two to secure the victory.
Another key to this game will be rebounding. While they may not have many strengths, Penn State is one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the conference. Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan, and Jon Horford need to be better on the glass and step up the intensity on defense. PSU big man Sasa Borovnjak improved greatly towards the end of the year and has given them a bit of a spark. The bigs will have to take him out of the game to hold down the Nittany Lions.
Recent history aside, this should be an easy win for the Wolverines. There is simply too much talent on this team to slip up against such an inferior team, especially now in conference tournament time where teams could use a nice run to boost their resumes before the big dance. This especially applies to Trey Burke and the Wolverines. In order to advance through this weekend, they will likely have to go through Wisconsin and Indiana, setting up a bit of a “revenge tour” if you will. It won’t be hard to get them motivated.
The game tips off at 2:30 pm on Big Ten Network.