On Thursday night, Michigan will take on Texas Tech from the Big 12 conference. This is a Red Raiders team that has played sound defense all season long and will be the biggest test for the Wolverines this season. Texas Tech also shared the regular season title with Kansas State. Let's take a further look at this Texas Tech team and what to watch for during the game.
A Strong Defense
According to Kenpom, the Red Raiders have the number one defense and has a defensive efficiency of under 86 points per 100 possessions.
Their defensive philosophy is simple, pack the paint and force opposing offenses to operate from the perimeter. They are 2nd in field goal percentage defense (41.4% on twos and 30% on threes) and 10th in forced turnover rate which is about 23%. Texas Tech is very capable of man-to-man defense but can change on the fly and go with a zone defense with no drop-off. This year's Red Raiders are in the 90th percentile according to Synergy when defending isolations, post-ups, ball-screens, and spot-ups. What this means is that Texas Tech is excellent at communication, recovering on ball rotation along with closeouts.
In the game against Duke early in the season, the Red Raiders drew between 3-5 charges and Zion Williamson fouled out because the Red Raiders forced two early fouls on him in the first half.
Michigan will have to be very careful when driving towards the basket because the Red Raiders draw about three offensive fouls per game good for third in the country. Weak-side attack is the key for Michigan against this stout defense, because the strong side is where Texas Tech plays their best. Firm but crisp passing along with few turnovers is also crucial for a Wolverine win. Despite these impressive defensive numbers, the Red Raiders are not a very good rebounding team and allow opponents to rebound 28.6% of their missed shots. Against Florida, Michigan was able to dominate the offensive and defensive glass, and they will need something similar against Texas Tech.
A Struggling Offense
On the other side of the court, Texas Tech is ranked 33rd in offensive efficiency and 49th in shooting. Despite having Jarrett Culver, their offense tends to fall apart against tougher competition such as Duke and Kansas. The main culprit is turnovers, and in the loss versus the Blue Devils, they coughed up the ball 24 times. In their six losses, the Red Raiders have coughed up double-digit turnovers, and this is something that Michigan should take advantage of. Texas Tech runs a ton of ball screens and cuts to get open looks, and it is the staple of their offense. What Michigan will need to do defensively is force Texas Tech out of its comfort zone and make them run stuff that it hasn't focused on such as pick and rolls.
Players to Watch For
Davide Moretti- Outside of Culver, Moretti is someone that you have to keep an eye on especially because he is one of the Red Raiders best outside shooter. He shoots 45% from downtown and can drive and draw fouls. Jordan Poole will likely handle the assignment to guard Moretti, and he will need to have his best defensive game of the season on this Italian sharpshooter.
Jarrett Culver- At 6'6, Culver is a hot NBA prospect for Texas Tech and hails from Lubbock, Texas. He won the Big 12 player of the year this season, and the entire offense runs through Culver, so if you limit him, the offense will struggle. His length, vision, and ability to attack the basket are impressive and is the reason he's improved each game. He averages about 19 points per game and the likely defender on him will be Charles Matthews. Matthews has defend some of the best offensive players in the two years that he has been playing for Michigan and has won the majority of those battles.
Tariq Owens- Like Jon Teske, he can block shots with his 6'10 length and is a great rim protector. His offensive game is mostly inside, but can also shoot the three as well. However, he is not a great three-point shooter so the Wolverines don't have to worry about that aspect of that game too much.