The third-ranked Michigan Wolverines put their unblemished record on the line once more, as they play host to the Arkansas Razorbacks in non-conference action on Saturday afternoon.
Arkansas recently snapped a three-game losing streak by slipping past visiting Oklahoma on Tuesday, 81-78. The win got the team back over .500 at 4-3, and all three of its setbacks have come against ranked foes (Arizona, Wisconsin and Syracuse). The Razorbacks are playing their first true road game of the season at Michigan, and they will return home right after to get set for a five-game home stand before kicking off SEC action at Texas A&M on Jan. 9, 2013.
Michigan is hosting a SEC opponent for the first time in nearly a decade (70-66 win over Vanderbilt on Dec. 21, 2002), and a win here would give head coach John Beilein 100 victories at the school. At 8-0, the Wolverines are off to their best start since 1996-97, and a win here would give them their first 9-0 start since the 1988-89 squad opened at 11-0 en route to its first national championship. Michigan, which routed Western Michigan in a 73-41 final on Tuesday night, is 20-1 in Ann Arbor over the past two seasons.
The all-time series between these two programs in knotted at 3-3, although Michigan has it 3-2 in favor of the Hogs due to a vacated game. The teams met in Fayetteville on Jan. 21, 2012 with Arkansas narrowly prevailing in a 66-64 final.
Thanks to a couple of blowout wins over inferior competition, the Razorbacks are averaging a robust 82.1 ppg, shooting 44.2 percent from the field despite a poor 28.8 percent showing from 3-point range. Defensively, the team yields 74.3 ppg, with foes converting 45.9 percent from the floor, which includes a 36.4 percent effort from beyond the arc. Arkansas is being outworked on the glass by 3.6 rpg, but boasts one of the top turnover margins around at +7.4, thanks to the opposition coughing the ball up an average of 18.3 times per outing. Despite wasting his time from long range (3-of-21), BJ Young has certainly produced for the Hogs early on, netting 19.5 ppg while also handing out a team-high 22 assists and grabbing 4.0 rpg. Marshawn Powell shoots 50.6 percent from the field and is the unit's only other double-digit scorer with 16.1 ppg, and he ranks second on the team with 5.6 rpg. Powell went off for 33 points, adding six caroms and five assists to his impressive stat line, helping UA top Oklahoma by a scant three points earlier in the week. Young and Mardracus Wade added 10 points apiece for the Razorbacks, who made good on 52.6 percent of their total shots, hitting nine 3-pointers along the way. The Sooners were 55.4 percent accurate on their field goal attempts, but committed 17 turnovers.
Michigan has excelled at both ends of the court this season, averaging 79.0 ppg while permitting just 57.6 ppg. The Big Ten's best shooting team, the Maize and Blue are knocking down 52.1 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 42.5 percent effort from 3-point range, and they own a +9.5 rebounding advantage while committing just 9.9 turnovers per affair. Foes are shooting just 40.2 percent overall, and 28.6 percent from downtown. The backcourt trio of Trey Burke (17.0 ppg, 7.1 apg), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (15.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Nik Stauskas (13.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg) head the team's offensive attack, while Glenn Robinson III (11.6 ppg, team-high 6.8 rpg) contributes at both ends. Burke poured in 20 points in connecting on 8-of-11 field goal attempts, while Stauskas added 11 points and Mitch McGary came off the bench to chip in 10, as the Wolverines whipped visiting Western Michigan by 32 points earlier in the week. Michigan made good on an even 50 percent of its shots compared to just 28.9 percent for its overmatched opponent. The Broncos missed 15 of their 17 3-point attempts while turning the ball over 18 times. Jordan Morgan grabbed eight of UM's 35 rebounds.