3 Things to watch for Michigan’s match-up vs. Louisville

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Michigan vs Oklahoma State
Mar 17, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward D.J. Wilson (5) and guard Zak Irvin (21) react against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the second half in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The 92-point outburst for Michigan on Friday in their opening round game against Oklahoma state marked the 7th time this season they scored 90+ points in a game. It turned out to be a track meet and some between the Wolverines and Pokes.

However, now Michigan will be dealing with a complete change in pace and style in Louisville. The Cardinals very quietly racked up 25 wins this year and hovered around the AP Top 10 all season.

So what does John Beilein and Michigan have to do to upset Louisville? Look for these three things to consider leading up to Sunday’s afternoon tilt:

1. CONTROLLING THE PAINT: Not only will Louisville be able to match the size of Michigan (perhaps have the advantage entirely), but they will be definitely owning the paint on both ends of the floor.

These two teams won their respective first-round games very differently. Michigan was on fire once again from outside, with little to no action inside. Oklahoma State owned the Wolverines on the boards (40-21), in the paint (50-20) and in second-chance points (21-7). Louisville against Jacksonville State racked up 44 of their 78 points in the paint and 24 was of the second-chance variety.

Michigan needs to find a way to balance their attack. Louisville is much bigger and stingier on defense than Oklahoma State, and the Pokes dominated the Wolverines in some aspects.

2. FIND THE OPEN LOOKS: But by all means, if Michigan wants to keep using their bread and butter and outshoot everyone, have at it. But doing so against one of the nation’s toughest three-point defenses is a tall task.

Louisville this year is allowing opponents to shoot just 31.5 percent from behind the arc this year. That’s good for top 30 in the country and only Duke had a better mark in the ACC. Coach Rick Pitino has five players 6-foot-9 or taller, including two 7-footers. He’s able to use those big bodies to not only dominate inside, but close out on outside shots.

Michigan needs to find a way to be one step ahead, whether that be in transition or in half court. Overcoming the athleticism of the Cards is no walk in the park for teams this season, a team that’s allowing just under 66 points per game (3rd in ACC).

MISTAKE-FREE BASKETBALL: One of if not the biggest reason for Michigan surviving a thrilling shootout with Oklahoma State was limiting mistakes. The Wolverines only turned the ball over four times in that first-round game (14 total turnovers between the two).

Louisville this season is forcing opponents to turn it over nearly 14 times a game, only Florida State has a higher mark in the ACC this season. They did just that in their opening round tilt vs. Jacksonville State. Conversely, the Cardinals only committed six miscues themselves.

Turnovers often dictate the outcome of a game. A miscue on one end of the floor can result in a made basket on the other, ultimately making it a 4- or 5-point swing on the scoreboard. Michigan will need to make sure they are not overwhelmed by Louisville’s size and depth.

DSN STAFF PREDICTIONS

STAFF MEMBER GAME PREDICTION
DANIEL DYLAN BAIR Louisville, 83-79
DON DRYSDALE Louisville, 77-70
ALEXANDER MULLER Louisville, 75-69
PAUL ROCHON Michigan, 72-70
A.J. REILLY Michigan, 77-72