Eastern Michigan (6-3) at (2) Michigan (11-0)
Thursday, December 20, 8:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Crisler Center (12,721) -- Ann Arbor, Michigan. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: EMU 6-0, Michigan 7-0. Away Record: EMU 0-3, Michigan 1-0. Neutral Record: EMU 0-0, Michigan 3-0. Conference Record: EMU 0-0, Michigan 0-0. Series Record: Michigan leads, 26-2.
GAME NOTES: The second-ranked Michigan Wolverines put their undefeated record on the line once again, as they play host to the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Thursday night.
EMU has gotten off to a surprisingly fast 6-3 start, but while it has an unbeaten mark on its home floor, it has been a completely different team away from Ypsilanti, losing all three of its road games. The Eagles most recently hit the road to play Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 15, falling in a 74-48 final. It was the third straight game that they failed to clear 50 points.
Michigan has yet to encounter any stumbling blocks on the season, winning all 11 of its games -- it's best start in 24 years. Some of its signature victories came over Pittsburgh (67-62), Kansas State (71-57), NC State (79-72) and against West Virginia on Saturday in the Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival, 81-66. After top-ranked Indiana lost over the weekend, the Wolverines moved up to No. 2, which is their highest ranking since the 1992-93 season.
The Wolverines have dominated the all-time series with EMU, 26-2, which includes a 91-60 win in Ann Arbor the last time these two programs met in December of 2008.
The Eagles' struggles shooting the ball this season have been well documented, as they average just 57.2 ppg on a lowly 38.7 percent shooting effort, but they've been able to claim a winning record by boasting an outstanding defense (.379, 57.6 ppg). Unfortunately for EMU, it was off its game at both ends of the floor in the loss to UIC, as it shot a mere 33.3 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers in the 26-point setback. Glenn Bryant was the only Eagle to score in double figures with 10 points. Derek Thompson is the team's leading scorer on the season with 12.3 ppg, and his 23 3-pointers are more than half the team's total. Bryant (10.4 ppg) and Daylen Harrison (10.1 ppg) are also consistent sources of points, while each grab at least five rebounds per contest.
Unlike EMU, Michigan has had no problem whatsoever putting points on the board, as it nets more than 78 ppg at a 51.1 percent clip, which ranks sixth in the nation coming into the week. Everything was clicking in the latest win over West Virginia, as the Wolverines made good on 57.1 percent of their field goal attempts. UM was paced by a pair of outstanding performances from Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., with the former shooting 12-of-16 from the field for 28 points while also dishing out eight assists, and the latter tallying 25 points, making 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Burke has been one of the nation's top guards in the early going, as he is making good on 53.5 percent of his field goal attempts for 18.0 ppg, adding 7.0 apg for good measure. Hardaway, Jr. has also been solid with 15.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg, while Nik Stauskas (13.2 ppg) is one of the nation's best long-range shooters, making 29-of-53 from 3- point land (.547). Glenn Robinson III adds to one of the best starting lineups in the country with 11.3 ppg and 6.5 rpg.
EMU has been a nice story so far, but its weaknesses have been exposed in recent weeks, and its struggles will surely continue on the road against one of the nation's elite teams. The Wolverines shouldn't break much of a sweat in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 80, Eastern Michigan 52
12/20 10:37:49 ET