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NCAA Final Four 2018: Michigan Preview



Between last year's Big 10 tournament and this year's run in March, it should be pretty obvious you should not go up against Michigan in the postseason.

Last season, the Michigan Wolverines used a magical run to win the Big 10 Tournament, but were thrown back in Oregon's Sweet 16. This season, they were able to drive this momentum to the Final Four, and there was no shortage of dramaturgy along the way.

Michigan has been offensive with the exception of the game against Texas A & M. During the season, Michigan had an average of 1

.08 points per possession, which is not bad, but during the tournament, including the game against the Aggies, they have an average of 0.907 points per possession, which is very similar to them.

Michigan really got into the tournament at the time thanks to their defense. Only one opponent they've met has scored more than 63 points, and that was Texas A & M. The state of Florida had an average of 80 points per game this season and Michigan held it to 54 points.

Now they are in Loyola-Chicago in front of a team that is just as good on the defensive. If you like offensive shows, then maybe that's not the game for you.

Players to watch

The player to see Michigan is obviously Moritz Wagner. The guy is just pure energy when he's on the ground. Not only is he giving Michigan a boost, he's also a match-up nightmare when running his A-game.

Wagner has an average of 14 points and 7 rebounds in the season, but does his best job when he can knock the long ball down. He shoots nearly 40 percent of 3 this season, and his eFG percentage is whopping 60 percent.

All of this really spells bad news for Loyola because they really do not have anyone to watch over Wagner. Loyola dominated the color in the Elite Eight match against Kansas State, but it was not because they had a dominant big man. They really only used dribbling drives and an occasional post-bucket from freshman Cameron Krutwig.

That probably will not cut against a talent like Wagner. Be aware that Michigan is trying to capitalize on the mismatch between Wagner and the one who can watch him on Saturday.

Strengths

Michigan's greatest strength is its defense. Loyola is in fourth place in the country, scoring just 62 points per game, but just behind them is Michigan, who lost just 63.1 points per game – and 14th in defensive efficiency.

3, if less than one point per obsession on offense is achieved. In the previous 10 seasons they were 12-84. That said, even if Michigan can not make it on the offensive end, they can still win games with their defense.

It's definitely an added benefit to a team that is still able to put points in a hurry. Michigan held Florida State at 0.844 points per possession, which was by far the worst offensive performance of the season.

Michigan will defend her defense for a possible victory on Saturday just as they have all the tournaments long. Add that they spin the ball only nine times per game, and it should be a pretty clean game. Michigan will not shoot and Loyola will not. It might just be a case of who will make the big mistake first.

Weaknesses

Michigan does not really have a ton of weaknesses. They play well in defense and are more than capable of scoring points on offense. Florida State is another great defensive team, but Michigan looks light and could not take in any rainfall, especially on the track. Overall, they shot only 38 percent off the ground and 18 percent from the 3-point area.

It's almost the same story except for the Texas A & M game. In fact, their shootings cost them almost the game against Houston. Fortunately, Jordan Poole managed to rescue her, but they could not buy a bucket on the line.

This team is also pretty scary off the free throw line. They shoot only 66 percent off the free throw line, and as we all know, free-throwing could ruin everything for you.

Biggest key to defeating Loyola-Chicago

If Michigan wants to beat Loyola, it just has to do what they've done throughout the tournament – play good defense and do not turn the ball. Both are staples for what they did, not only during the tournament but throughout the season.

Michigan can not become a tournament in this game. You have to take care of the ball, because even if Loyola is not the most potent attack, you can turn your sales into points. As long as Michigan takes care of the ball, they'll be there at the end of the game.

You also have to use the mismatch that Moritz Wagner has against Loyola. Michigan's offense was to run against Wagner on Saturday. If they can do these things, they will have a chance to play for the national championship.


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