Today will be an interesting day in Tucson to say the least. Michigan travels to Arizona for a matchup against the Arizona Wildcats.
5:15 PM EST (ESPN)
What to Expect:
Arizona is a team that Michigan should be, “high alert,” for. Having the last two (!!!) home games end in defeat to two inferior opponents, Michigan has been trending downwards in recent weeks. Now I know this has the makings for a bloodbath, but I truly feel Michigan will show up today.
I believe Michigan loves the bright lights and opportunity to take on big name opponents, and today is one of the biggest names in college basketball as of right now. Caris LeVert will need to bring everything he has, as well as Derrick Walton and Spike Albrecht.
The Wildcats boast a 9-0 record and are ranked third in the country entering the game, and Michigan will have their hands full guarding Stanley Johnson, a freshman contributing a team-high, 13.8 points-per-game. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also adding close to 13 points-per-game and close to seven rebounds coming off the bench. Sean Miller will have his ‘Cats ready for the matchup.
Spike Albrecht is an intriguing player for Michigan, not just for this one game, but for his entire career. Unheralded coming out of high school, Albrecht is most known for his seventeen-point first half in the 2013 National Championship game, but should be recognized for his production beyond that as well. He’s taken the team and is trying to instill what Jordan Morgan and company did for his teams. It is not an easy role, but Albrecht is a player who shows up when the cameras are rolling, so it will be interesting to see which version of Albrecht we see today. Zak Irvin is another player to watch, and when he gets going, he’s almost unguardable. Irvin has his share of cold streaks, so it’s not guaranteed he takes this game over.
Stanley Johnson is a serious talent, and one that will give Michigan fits all afternoon. Johnson, a freshman, has taken the Pac-12 by storm, unleashing his wrath on most of the nine opponents thus far. 9-0 is nothing to shake your head at, and Johnson is a big reason they are so dangerous. For the third ranked Wilcats, Brandon Ashley is another player to watch. Averaging 11.6 points-per-game, he brings even more scoring capability to a potent Arizona offense.
History is on Arizona’s side in this one, having won the last matchup 72-70 last year in the Crisler Center, and the last two overall. In the series, Michigan is 2-7 in school history against Arizona. Today I pick my head over my heart, and think the Wildcats take this one, 68-57. Michigan will hang tough, but ultimately their big men and lack of consistent easy shot opportunities will be their Achilles heel, and drop a third straight.