NCAA Tournament Predictions: Michigan vs. Wofford

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We Predict the Field

AP Photo/AJ Mast
AP Photo/AJ Mast

2. Michigan Wolverines (25-8, 15-3 Big Ten)-The Wolverines won the Big Ten title outright despite losing big man Mitch McGary early in the season. This Michigan team is loaded with talent, but they’re painfully young, with only one senior and one junior on the entire roster. The job that head coach John Beilein has done with this group, this season, after losing McGary is nothing short of remarkable. It’s probably more commendable than reaching the national championship game last season.

Canadian Nik Stauskas leads the team in scoring at 17.5 per game. He’s a tremendous three point shooter, knocking down 44.5% of his threes. Fellow sophomores Caris LeVert (13.5 ppg) and Glenn Robinson III (13.2 ppg) share the scoring load. Both have the capability to take over in games. Freshman guard Derrick Walton Jr. is an important cog as well.

Because of their youth, this Michigan squad isn’t expected to make another run at a Final Four. But we wouldn’t count the Wolverines out just yet. There is a truckload of talent on this roster, and if a player gets hot like McGary did in the NCAAs last season, this club could be very dangerous.

 

KEY STATS:

21st Field Goal Percentage (.481)

62nd Points Allowed (65.4)

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Cochran can be dangerous from deep. (AP Photo/Tony Tribble)
Cochran can be dangerous from deep. (AP Photo/Tony Tribble)

Wofford Terriers (20-12, 11-5 Southern)–The Terriers were beneficiaries of Western Carolina’s stunning upset of 15-1 Davidson in the SoCon semifinals, but this is still a very solid basketball team. Wofford won 13 of 15 games down the stretch. They’re led by 6-1 junior guard Karl Cochran (15.4 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg), who is bulldog-tough and has a knack for knocking down big threes. 6-4 guard Spencer Collins is also a factor offensively (13.1 ppg).

The Terriers win with tough defense, and grind games out in a way that would make Dick Bennett proud. They work the shot clock on offense, as only 17 teams in the country have fewer possessions per game than the Terriers do. But that also means that opponents don’t get as many possessions, and thus frustration can often set in.

Wofford ranks 22nd in the nation in points allowed per game (62.4%), and you can see by the number of stats below that they excel on defense. They aren’t a tremendous three-point shooting team, but can scare you from deep–ranking 66th overall in the nation.

Wofford went 9-7 in non-conference play, but there aren’t many bad losses on the schedule. They hung in with Saint Louis in a 66-52 loss. They also lost to Georgia, Iona, High Point, William & Mary, and VCU.  The Terriers aren’t a very big team, as only one rotation guy is at least 6-6. The program has been to the NCAAs twice before, in 2010 and ’11. Those teams played well in close losses to 4th-seeded Wisconsin (53-49) and 3rd-seeded BYU (74-66), respectively.

 

KEY STATS:

Points Allowed per Game: 22nd (62.4)

Points Allowed per Possession: 88th (0.99)

Defensive Field Goal Percentage: 211th (44.8%)

Points per Possession: 159th (1.03)

Possessions per Game: 334th (63.5)

Opponents’ 3-Point Percentage: 81st (32.5%)

Three-Point Percentage: 66th (37.1%)

Rebound Percentage: 77th (53.3%)

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