The 6-2 Michigan Wolverines will try to get back on track tonight at the Crisler Center when they welcome the 7-1 Eastern Michigan Eagles (9 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN).
At a glance…
|PPG||Caris LeVert 18.6||Raven Lee 16.4|
|REBOUNDS||Caris LeVert 5.6||Karrington Ward 7.3|
|ASSISTS||Caris LeVert 4.4||Mike Talley 4.0|
Michigan lost 72-70 in a shocker last Saturday to NJIT, despite Caris LeVert’s 32 points and four steals. A large part of the Wolverines’ struggles against the Highlanders involved a lack of intensity. A team that is usually able to win that battle, Michigan didn’t seem to be able to match NJIT with its intensity. Another major contributing factor was the lack of production from Zak Irvin, who only hit two of 11 shots for five points.
Eastern Michigan’s 7-1 record may be deceiving, but we have obviously seen first hand what happens when we dismiss a team entirely. The Eagles’ toughest contest this season came against Dayton, and they lost by nine. That was also Eastern Michigan’s first game away from home.
The Eagles have worked their opponents nicely this season. They rarely turn the ball over and are relatively efficient on the offensive end of the court. Where the real nod of approval comes from though is on defense. Eastern Michigan, last season, held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage in the country. A majority of that roster is no longer there, but the Eagles’ 3-2 zone defense creates many high-pressure situations for offenses and forces teams to either turn the ball over or force bad shots.
Eagles sophomore Ray Lee is going to be the go-to guy tonight. With 90 field goal attempts through eight games, Lee is easily one of the focal points of Eastern Michigan’s offense. He usually makes the most of his attempts, too, hitting 52.2 percent of his shots (36.1 percent from behind the arc).
Eastern Michigan will have an advantage in experience in tonight’s game. Three starters will be seniors, and another will be a junior. Michigan had to deal with this when it played Villanova in Brooklyn, and even though that game went down as a loss in the books, it looked like a game that taught a great deal to the young Wolverines.
Something the Eagles won’t have on their side tonight is fire power. Michigan can usually depend on three guys each night to get the job done in a big way, whereas the Eagles will have to heavily depend on Lee.
Michigan is able to pull it together and put away the Eagles, 72-60.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.