Why Michigan could be doomed vs. Purdue bigs


Michigan basketball (14-3) take on Purdue (15-2) Tuesday night in Ann Arbor.

Ranked No. 5, Purdue will be a big test for the unranked Wolverines. Said test would be a pivotal win for Michigan, serving as its first Top 25 victory.

Michigan’s questionable interior defense

Michigan’s softest spot on defense is inside the paint. At times, forwards Duncan Robinson and Moe Wagner have proven to be liabilities. The biggest boon defensively for the Wolverines this year has been Jon Teske. Standing 7-foot-1, the big sophomore is naturally tough to finish over.

Teske has been quite a surprise, and, by all accounts, great for Michigan this year. We?ve seen Head Coach John Beilein’s refusal to play both Teske and Wagner at the same time, so while Teske is on the floor, Michigan loses the offensive technician it has in Wagner.

Check out this tweet from account @CT_In_TC that shows team defense points per possession vs Kenpom top 100 teams, which shows Robinson and Wagner as the two lowest graded on the team (Before the Illinois game):

Does Purdue have the tools to punish this?

In short, yes.

Purdue has two behemoths in 7-foot-2 290 pound Isaac Haas, and 7-foot-3 250 pound Matt Haarms.

Haas is averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block in 22 minutes per game. At 290 pounds, Moe Wagner would be at a 45 pound disadvantage and Jon Teske would be at a 35 pound disadvantage. While his averages overall are good, Haas’ stats in conference games are even more impressive. In Big Ten games, he averages 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Haarms is only averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds per game, but he has a big impact on the game defensively. The most impressive stat of Haarms is that he is averaging 3 blocks while only playing 19 minutes per game.

That leaves Purdue’s forward Vince Edwards. The senior stands 6-foot-8 at 225 pounds, and could create some serious match up problems for this Michigan defense.

Edwards is an all-around great player that averages 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists. He can shoot from the outside (39 percent from 3) and is efficient from inside the arc too (49 percent). Edwards is a rather scary match up for Robinson. With the progression of Isaiah Livers and his great performances against Iowa and Illininois, don’t be surprised if Livers gets the bulk of minutes between the two. Here is Livers’ game stats, which shows his efficiency in Michigan’s last two games.

Aren’t there ways to help the post D?

Since Purdue gets a significant amount of scoring from their bigs Haas and Edwards, Michigan is going to have to find ways to help theirs.

Wagner could front the big guys down low and have back side help, or they could just double when the ball gets into the post. The problem then arises of how great Purdue shoots from beyond the arc.

As a team, Purdue shoots 41 percent from 3.

  • Carsen Edwards – 35 percent
  • Vince Edwards – 39 percent
  • Dakota Mathias – 46 percent
  • PJ Thompson – 49 percent
  • Ryan Cline – 40 percent

Not only are the Boilermakers efficient from deep, but they have legitimate shooters 1 through 4.

Obviously, this isn’t a death sentence for the Wolverines, but there is a reason that Purdue is ranked no. 5 in the nation – they are very good. If the Wolverines are able to pull off the upset in Ann Arbor tonight, it would be a huge accomplishment for this inexperienced Michigan team. Regardless, it won?t be easy with the odds against them.

Staff predictions:

  • Landon Dillion: 74-68 Purdue
  • Brandon Justice: 63-56 Purdue
  • LGHail: 73-70 Michigan
  • Eric Coughlin: 74-72 Purdue
  • John Due: 62-59 Michigan
  • Barstool Reags: 79-77 Michigan


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