John Beilein and his Michigan Wolverines will face a test this afternoon unlike any other they have faced this season: HAVOC.
VCU and fourth-year head coach Shaka Smart will give Trey Burke and the Wolverines fits when the two teams match-up in Auburn Hills this afternoon.
“Havoc” is what Smart’s full court press has been termed. VCU is one of the best defensive teams in the country. They are a team that forces turnovers and loves to play fast. I wasn’t buying into the VCU hype coming into the tournament. It seems to me any time a mid-major that’s pulled off an upset before or been deep in the tournament gets in, people always name them as a sleeper, but I wasn’t buying it coming into this year. After the 46 point drubbing of Akron on Thursday night, I understand now.
VCU is going to frustrate you as a fan when you watch this game. You’ll be stunned by just how fast these guys are and how they pressure the ball. They will punch the Wolverines in the mouth early.
The key to this game is breaking the “havoc” press. Being a former coach, the best way to break a full court press is with clean, crisp passes and several of them. You may have to make three, four, maybe even five passes to get the ball past half court. Once you get there, the ball has to travel around the perimeter as well. VCU will force quick shots and good looks will come only from good ball movement.
Michigan can slow down VCU by showing up on the defensive end of the floor. I’ve stated several times this year that when Michigan is at it’s best, their defense opens up their transition game, which in turn opens up their offense. When the chips are down, Michigan’s talent and athleticism is superior to VCU and in order to win this game, they will have to outwork and outhustle their opponent.
I don’t expect Trey Burke to struggle again, and I expect that Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr to be the running mates to Burke that the Wolverines need to win. The match-up of the game will come in the form of the Wolverine bigs against VCU’s Juvonte Reddic, who is big and quick enough to make Michigan pay in the post. He is an effort player and will beat you to several loose balls if you allow him to.
John Beilein and the Wolverines will have the Auburn Hills crowd on their side, as it was announced both Palace sessions are sold out. Hopefully, that will be the extra boost they need to get past the Rams. VCU will be a much stiffer test than whoever advances out of the (1) Kansas vs. (8) UNC match-up for the Wolverines, assuming they get there. I think they will.
Prediction: Michigan 79, VCU 76
The game is on CBS and tips at 12:15pm. Winner will advance to the Sweet 16 and face the winner of (1) KU vs. (8) UNC.
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