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Thursday, December 12, 2013

12th Man Report: Showdown in A2

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 8:05 AM

The only certainty with the Michigan men’s basketball team, as history tells us, is that they have an advantage when playing at Crisler Center.  The Wolverines have been more than dominant while at home — losing only twice in the past two years.

They’ll need that home advantage this Saturday, because No. 1 Arizona is coming in very hot to Ann Arbor. The Wildcats, who defeated Duke (the same team that handled the Wolverines in Durham) two weeks ago, are undefeated on the year and riding a win-streak over that time that spans some pretty damn good teams.

Michigan’s trajectory has been the complete opposite. While it doesn’t have any terrible losses, to have a 6-3 overall record this early isn’t ideal for Michigan. The Wolverines have suffered losses to Iowa State on the road, Charlotte in a neutral site, and Duke on the road. But they haven’t had any true tests at home.

The Wolverines have struggled this season — to put it gently. They have no true point guard/leader, and the absence of Trey Burke as floor general has been devastating to the offense. It’s not that there aren’t playmakers — see Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Nik Stuaskas — it’s just they don’t have a facilitator. At some point, freshman Derrick Walton may be that guy, but right now, he’s still too raw and inexperienced.

Michigan’s strategy will likely vary and change this Saturday, as any John Beilein offense does, but they’ll need everybody to chip in if they’re going to knock of Arizona. In all of their losses there has been a trend: only a few guys playing well, and the rest of the team standing around watching. That can’t happen against the Wildcats — well it can, they will just assuredly lose.

And this game is definitely going to end up being important for Michigan as the season progresses. It can either be an impetus for the Wolverines to get hot just three weeks before conference play starts, or it could be just another loss in what may prove to be a disappointing season.

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