On Tuesday evening, the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take on the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (10-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) in the biggest game of both teams’ early seasons.
To help get us acquainted with the Wolverines before the game we reached out to Anthony Broome, the site manager of SB Nation’s Michigan blog Maize N Brew, with a few questions about Juwan Howard’s squad.
Freshman Hunter Dickinson is not only 7-foot-1 he is also one of the best players in the country so far this year. What has made him so effective in Michigan’s offense and can a team like Wisconsin, who starts two 6-foot-11 guys, slow him down?
Given Wisconsin’s size, they might be the best equipped to slow down Dickinson compared to what other teams have thrown at him. With all of that said, Dickinson has passed every single test to this point and I think he is up for the challenge. He has been a monster in the post all season, but he is starting to peel back a few more layers to his game and develop consistency with his mid-range jump shot. If that continues to be a part of his game, I’m not sure how to slow that down outside of getting him into foul trouble. That has not happened yet this year, though.
While not as contemptible as his older brother Moritz, Franz Wagner is turning out to be just as good of a player. He is a good scorer, but I’m more interested in him as a passer since he has the third highest assist rate on the team. Does Michigan like to run plays through him even though he’s 6-foot-9?
Wagner is starting to develop a knack for letting the game come to him. On any given night, he could pop and score 20-plus points, but he has done a nice job recently of playing within the constructs of the offense and taking what he gets from the defense.
His passing ability might be one of the more underrated aspects of his game and Michigan can absolutely run the offense through him when it wants to.
The Badgers are a great three point shooting team, with all five of their starters capable of getting hot from deep. Does Michigan do a good job of running people off the three point line?
They have done a much better job recently. Early in the year they sort of struggled in that department, but teams were hitting a lot of well-defended looks, as well. They say as a team the magic number for them is six threes or less allowed per game to be considered successful. They are doing well and the signs are there that they could continue to get better.
Wisconsin rarely turns the ball over and Michigan isn’t the type of team that forces a lot of turnovers. How is Michigan’s defense so successful?
I think it’s their length, athleticism, and as cliche as it might sound, their hustle as well. They are successful because they dive for every loose ball and do a lot of the things that do not show up in the box score. They take pride in not being outworked and that ability to go the extra mile is something that has worn down opponents over the last few weeks.
Part of it is that they are also deep and can come at you in waves. I think they are also technically sound as individuals and might have three guys on their own (Eli Brooks, Chaundee Brown, Franz Wagner) that might have an argument as being up there as some of the best defenders in the league.
What is your prediction for the game and who will lead the Wolverines in scoring?
This is a tough one! All the ingredients are there for one of those classic Big Ten rock fight games. Michigan has scored at least 80 points in all but one game this year and are playing some of their best basketball of the season right now. I’m going to give the Wolverines the nod here, but think that this could be one of those “first team to 60 wins” type of games. I feel like we are due for a big performance from Isaiah Livers, so I’ll go with him as the guy leading the charge.