The 18th-ranked Michigan Wolverines will try 0 on the young season as they welcome the Towson Tigers to Ann Arbor for tonight's "Maui on the Mainland" matchup at Crisler Arena. The game is part of the prestigious Maui Invitational, which continues through November 23 when the championship round takes center stage in Hawaii.
Towson is facing its second ranked opponent to open the season, having dropped a 100-54 decision at No. 13 Kansas last Friday. The Tigers are under the direction of first-year head coach Pat Skerry, who hopes to lead a turnaround for the Colonial Athletic Association member after logging a 4-26 record in 2010-11, which included a winless run (0-18) in conference. With the loss to Kansas, Towson fell to 28-25 all-time in season openers.
Michigan started slowly, but turned it on after the break in its season opener against little-known Ferris State last Friday, prevailing in a 59-33 final. It was the ninth straight season-opening victory for the Wolverines, who last held an opponent to 33 points at home back in 1948. Michigan will play one more home game after tonight's contest, Thursday versus Western Illinois, before making the trek to Hawaii to take on Memphis next Monday.
Michigan owns a 4-0 lead in the all-time series with Towson, and the last meeting took place in Ann Arbor in 2000 with the Wolverines slipping past the Tigers in a 73-71 final.
Despite playing in one of the most historic and hostile environments in all of college basketball, Towson wasn't about to be intimidated by the 13th-ranked Jayhawks last Friday, but in the end, talent won out as Kansas claimed the 46- point victory. The Tigers actually won the rebounding battle, 35-32, but inexperience (four underclassmen starters) and a hot-shooting night by the Jayhawks were simply too much to overcome. Robert Nwankwo posted his 10th career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Towson, while Marcus Damas added 11 points and seven boards, and Kris Walden also scored 11 points in his first college game. Unfortunately, the Tigers shot just 35.3 percent from the floor, making a mere three three-pointers along the way, while Kansas dropped 10 treys en route to a 58.6 percent overall shooting performance. Towson committed a whopping 23 turnovers, compared to just five by the home team.
Michigan used a 24-3 second-half run to stop the upset bid by Ferris State last Friday, getting past the Bulldogs in what turned out to be a 26-point margin of victory. The Wolverines got balanced scoring from three players, as Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz each had 14 points, while Tim Hardaway, Jr. chipped in with 12. Douglass made his 103rd consecutive appearance, having not missed a single game in his collegiate career. After shooting a dreadful 27.6 percent from the field in the opening half, coach John Belein's club had significantly more success in the final frame, draining 51.9 percent of its total shots, which included five three-pointers. Michigan hit nine triples in the game compared to just three for the Bulldogs, who wound up shooting a mere 28 percent from the field overall. The Wolverines scored 15 points off 17 turnovers by Ferris State, and they outscored the Bulldogs in the paint, 22-14.