West Virginia (4-4) vs. (3) Michigan (10-0)
Saturday, December 15, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (18,103) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: ESPN. Home Record: WVU 2-0, UM 7-0. Away Record: WVU 0-2, UM 1-0. Neutral Record: WVU 2-2, UM 2-0. Conference Record: WVU 0-0, UM 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Facing his old team for the first time, John Beilein leads the third-ranked Michigan Wolverines into Saturday's non-conference clash with the West Virginia Mountaineers at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
West Virginia is an even 4-4 on the season, and the team recently had a three- game win streak snapped with a 60-56 loss at Duquesne on Tuesday. The Mountaineers are putting the wraps on a stretch in which they've played seven of their first nine games outside of Morgantown, and following this one they'll return home for four straight, culminating in their first-ever Big 12 Conference game against Oklahoma on Jan. 5, 2013.
Michigan in making its second appearance in the Big Apple this season, the team taking care of both Pittsburgh and Kansas State in winning the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden back in November. The Wolverines are a perfect 10-0, which is their best start since 1988-89 when they began 11-0 en route to their first and only national championship. The best start in school history was in 1985-86 (16-0). Beilein was WVU's head coach from 2003-07, compiling a record of 104-60 and leading the Mountaineers to two NCAA Tournament appearances, as well as the 2007 NIT title.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between West Virginia and Michigan in men's basketball.
Lacking that one player who can take over a game at any given moment, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins instead relies on a balanced effort to get the job done. Unfortunately, even with five guys averaging between 7.1 (Jabarie Hinds) and 10.6 ppg (Juwan Staten), the Mountaineers have struggled to find their footing, netting 69.2 ppg in hitting a mere 39 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a dreadful 26.4 percent showing from 3-point range. The team's defensive effort reflects an average yield of only 65.4 ppg, with foes shooting 41.5 percent from the floor, which encompasses a 33.6 percent effort from beyond the arc. WVU owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+4.9) and turnovers (+3.9). The Mountaineers led by 15 points in the second half against Duquesne earlier in the week, but the Dukes came storming back to claim the four-point victory. Staten tallied 13 points and four assists for the Mountaineers, who managed just a 33.3 percent shooting effort, which included a woeful 4-of-18 display from beyond the arc.
Unlike its counterpart in this one, Michigan has a slew of scoring options in the form Trey Burke (17.1 ppg, 6.9 apg), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Nik Stauskas (13.5 ppg, .587 3-point FG percentage) and Glenn Robinson III (11.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg). As a result, the Wolverines are generating 77.9 ppg in hitting 50.7 percent of their total shots, which includes 40.8 percent of their long-range attempts, while at the same time limiting the opposition to a mere 56.7 ppg with typical shooting outputs of .401 overall and .312 from downtown. Not surprisingly, the Maize and Blue also own positive differentials in both rebounding (+10.3) and turnovers (+2.3). Michigan routed Binghamton in its most recent outing, 67-39, and the team got solid efforts once again from Burke (19 points, five assists) and Stauskas (12 points). The team shot 44.3 percent from the floor, draining 10 3-pointers along the way, while holding its overmatched opponent to 34.0 percent field goal efficiency, which included a 7-of-25 showing from 3-point land.
The Mountaineers aren't about to roll over and let the Wolverines run away with this one, but coach Huggins' squad simply lacks have the horses to run with the top teams in the country, of which Michigan is certainly one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 78, West Virginia 63
12/15 10:31:05 ET