Michigan (3) is playing against the Loyola of Chicago (11) for a spot in the NCAA tournament championship game this Saturday, March 31st, at 6:09 p.m. ET.
The Wolverines have won 13 games in a row, with their last loss on February 6th. After running the table in the Big Ten tournament, Michigan has picked up wins in the tournament over Montana (14), Houston (6), Texas A&M (7), and Florida State (9).
Cinderella team, Loyola-Chicago, has beaten the Miami Hurricanes (6), Tennessee Volunteers (3), Nevada Wolfpack (7), and the Kansas State Wildcats (9). They look to upset yet another team and find their way into the national championship.
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The ramblers and Wolverines are extremely similar teams. They are both efficient teams that play great defense and shoot the 3.
Michigan tops the Ramblers in the turnover battle. The Wolverines are averaging just over 9 turnovers a game, with the 4th best turnover percentage in the nation. Loyola-Chicago averages just over the national average at 12.3 turnovers per game.
When it comes to defense, once again, the Wolverines have the advantage. Michigan ranks 4th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, but the Ramblers aren’t far behind, coming in at 19th.
Where Loyola does have the edge is three point shooting. Michigan is a relatively good 3-point shooting team, at 36.6 percent from beyond the arc, but the Ramblers are great. They have the 11th best shooting percentage from 3, at 40 percent.
Michigan has played small-ball teams this year and struggled, but this team is really small.
Loyola’s starting center Cameron Krutwig stands at 6-foot-9, which is already the start of a small team. But when he exits the floor, which is relatively often because he averages 24 minutes per game, the tallest player on the court for Loyola is 6-foot-6 forward Donte Ingram.
The Wolverines have couple of options. They could leave Wagner in and try to take advantage of the smaller team on offense, bring Teske in for defense, or try to put Isaiah Livers or Duncan Robinson at the five position.
It all depends on the flow of the game, but personally I am a fan of sticking with Wagner.
The Moe Wagner difference
Michigan has a special player in Moe Wagner. He can score from just about anywhere on the floor, and that poses a huge problem for teams that are less athletic. It is extremely difficult to run around with Wagner on screens due to his ability to beat the defense in so many ways, paired with things like Zavier Simpson’s quickness. If Wagner is hitting from deep it will put a huge strain on the Ramblers exceptional defense. He will be doing a ton of screening for the ball handlers.
But for Wagner to stay on the floor he has to play defense without fouling.
We will see how this plays out Saturday.
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