Intrastate rivals square off on Saturday evening, as the Central Michigan Chippewas have traveled to Ann Arbor to try and upset the second-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
Central Michigan comes in with a record of 7-5, and the team has won three of its last four games, the most recent victory coming versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff last Sunday, 62-45. The Chippewas are 1-3 in true road games this season, the lone win coming in their most recent such outing in an 80-77 decision at Pepperdine on Dec. 16. Following this contest, CMU will play an exhibition game against UM-Dearborn next Thursday and then open Mid-American Conference action at home against Bowling Green six days later.
Michigan has yet to suffer a loss this season, the team jumping out to a 12-0 start for only the second time in program history -- 1985-86 being the other. Like most of the top teams in the country, several of UM's victories have come against inferior competition, but it does have wins over Pittsburgh (67-62), Kansas State (71-57), NC State (79-72), Arkansas (80-67) and West Virginia (81-66) on its resume'. The club's last outing on Dec. 20 resulted in a 93-54 rout of another MAC foe from its home state, that being Eastern Michigan. The Wolverines are playing their final non-conference game of the regular season tonight, as they will open Big Ten action at Northwestern next Thursday.
Michigan owns a commanding 20-3 lead in the all-time series with Central Michigan, but it was the Chippewas who came out victorious in the most recent meeting in a 78-67 final in Ann Arbor on Dec. 15, 2007.
Despite shooting just 40.2 percent from the floor, CMU averages a decent 67.2 ppg. The team is just about dead even in terms of rebounding and turnovers, but allows its foes to knock down 46.5 percent of its field goal attempts en route to 68.7 ppg. Kyle Randall (15.9 ppg) is the only double-digit scorer for the Chippewas, who instead rely on a more balanced approach with seven others netting at least 4.9 ppg. Randall and Blake Hibbits both hit for 12 points in the recent win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the team as a whole making good on only 32.8 percent of its total shots despite nailing 10 3-pointers. A 50-34 edge in rebounding coupled with a 12-5 advantage in points from the foul line helped, as did the fact that Central Michigan clamped down defensively in permitting just 30.4 percent of UAPB's total shots to find the bottom of the net, which factored in a dreadful 6-of-23 showing from beyond the arc.
Michigan currently has four players averaging double figures in the scoring column, led by the backcourt trio of Trey Burke (17.4 ppg, 7.1 apg), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (15.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Nik Stauskas (13.4 ppg). Collectively, the Wolverines are putting up 79.4 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .511 overall, .411 from 3-point range, and .735 from the free throw line. Defensively, the Maize and Blue are yielding just 57.2 ppg, with foes connecting on only 39.6 percent of their total shots, which includes a 30.5 percent contribution from long range. Hardaway, Jr. scored 17 points to lead five players in double digits as UM rolled over EMU on Dec. 20 by nearly 40 points. Stauskas tallied 16 points, Glenn Robinson III had 13, Burke finished with 11 points and eight assists, and Mitch McGary came off the bench to post a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Michigan was lights out in hitting half of its 24 3-point attempts, and shooting 50.7 percent from the field overall.