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This game is going to be a true test to see which conference had the better season. Michigan won the Big Ten regular season by three games, while Texas finished in fourth place, three games back of first in the Big 12. The Wolverines have the edge as the 2-seed and are -4 to -5 point favorites, but this looks to be a back-and-forth game.
Michigan didn't have many problems in their first win over Wofford, but it wasn't the greatest of games as they started off the second half shooting 3-of-15 from the field. In the end, they only mustered 57 points, granted the Terriers have a solid defense. The Wolverines are trying to make a repeat run to the championship game, but they'll have to do it without a low-post presence, something they had in Mitch McGary last year.
Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford split time in the middle and neither is all that able, although you can't fault Morgan who has picked up his game this year and is coming off a 10-point, 10-rebound effort. The problem in this matchup is that Texas loves to go down low when they have an advantage. That advantage will be the beast of a man, Cameron Ridley, who dropped 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks against Arizona State's 7-2 center last game. It's likely they'll try and get Jonathan Holmes in some mismatches down low as well because he'll have size on Glenn Robinson III, who will most likely be the player guarding him. Of course, Michigan also loves to use a number of zones.
On the other end of the floor, Robinson will have the edge though, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out. While the Longhorns have a solid backcourt, the edge has to go to the Wolverines, who have the Big Ten player of the year.
Nik Stauskas often rises to the occasion and will be the first player to stop for Texas. He'll likely draw the defense of Demarcus Holland, but due to the Longhorns shorter backcourt, Stauskas will be a problem against anyone that guards him. Texas might even bring in Martez Walker more than usual so he can have a hand at guarding Stauskas.
At the other spots, Caris LeVert can also be a threat, again due to his size, shooting and ability to take it to the rack. Ridley is going to be huge in this game for the Longhorns on both ends of the court because he will also have to protect the rim on defense. Prince Ibeh could also play a role off the bench for Texas.
While the Longhorns have a shorter backcourt, it's not like they aren't good players. Javan Felix battled foul trouble in that first game, but still contributed 11 points in 16 minutes. Felix along with freshman Isaiah Taylor are going to be tough matchups. Derrick Walton Jr. will be needed for his defense on both of those players.
Due to the size of Texas down low and the likelihood they dominate the paint in this matchup, it's a given that this will be a close game. However, if Stauskas and LeVert find their shots early, it wouldn't be surprising if the Wolverines got a big lead going. Their size on the edges could be a real problem for Texas.
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