NCAA tourney preview: No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 7 Michigan
Before No. 7 Michigan takes on No. 2 Louisville in the Midwest Region on Sunday afternoon, BTN researcher Harold Shelton shares with you what the white-hot Big Ten tourney champs have working in their favor and working against them in their matchup vs. the Cardinals.
Working in Michigan’s favor:
- They’ve been the hottest team in the Big Ten, winning 11 of their last 13 games. They are shooting nearly 51 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range in that stretch
- Derrick Walton Jr. could be this year’s household name in the tourney. The Big Ten Tournament MOP is averaging 18.7 PPG, 47 percent FG, 44.2 percent 3-pt FG, 5.4 RPG and 5.9 APG over the last two months. Against Oklahoma State, he became the second Big Ten player to ever have 25 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists in a NCAA Tournament game, joining Magic Johnson.
- They are one of the best offensive teams in the nation, ranking in the Top 10 nationally in efficiency (4th), turnovers (5th), 2-point shooting (8th) and free throw shooting (11th).
- They are shooting the ball from deep at a great clip, which is important against a Louisville team that could play a lot of zone. Michigan made 16 3s against Oklahoma State, tied for the most by a Big Ten team in a NCAA Tournament game. They went 11-15 from 3 in the 2nd half of that game. More than 38 percent of their points come from the 3-point line, which ranks 14th in the nation.
- Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson can both stretch the floor, something that Louisville had issues with in the first round, allowing Jacksonville State’s Norbertas Giga, a 7-foot center, to score a career-high 30 points and make all five of his 3 point attempts. Wagner has made 44 3-pt FG while Wilson has made 36.
- Louisville isn’t a great free-throw shooting team, making fewer than 69 percent of its attempts, which ranks 230th in the nation. They also foul a lot, ranking 258th in opponents free-throw rate.
- Louisville has been an average shooting team. They rank outside the Top 125 nationally in 2-pt shooting (50.3 percent) and 3-point shooting (35.8 percent). Only 27.3 percent of their points come on 3s, which rank 254th nationally. If it’s a shootout, Louisville will have a hard time keeping up.
- Donovan Mitchell, Louisville’s best player, is averaging just 11 points while shooting 13 of 53 from the floor (24.5 percent) and 5-29 from 3 (17.2 percent) in his last four games. He scored in single digits in 3 of those games, including yesterday’s opener against Jacksonville State where he made just 3 of 15 shots and missed all 6 of his 3s.
Working against Michigan:
- They don’t defend the 3 well. Teams shoot nearly 38 percent against them from beyond the arc, which ranks 315th nationally.
- They don’t crash the offensive glass and they don’t get to the line much. They are just 297th in offensive rebounding and 292nd in free-throw rate. They aren’t great on the defensive glass either, which could be a problem against a Louisville team that grabs nearly 37 percent of their own misses, which ranks 13th nationally.
- They allow a lot of easy buckets. Teams are shooting nearly 68 percent on shots at the rim, which is 334th nationally. They also allow teams to shot 50 percent on 2-point shots, which ranks 201st nationally.
- Louisville is one of the best teams in the nation defensively, ranking sixth in blocks, seventh in efficiency and in the top 30 in 2-point shooting (44.5 percent) and 3-point shooting (31.5 percent).
- Despite the fact that Louisville isn’t a great shooting team, it is still efficient offensively because they don’t turn it over (27th in turnover rate) and it grabs nearly 37 percent of its misses (13th nationally).
- Louisville is very hard to score against in the half court. They are 17th nationally in half court defense but just 68th in transition defense. The problem is that Louisville only allows 17 percent of shot attempts to come in transition, which is 19th nationally.