Midwest Regional Edge matchup: Michigan vs. Kentucky

03/29/2014 9:47 PM

11/12/2014 4:26 PM

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 8 Kentucky

4:05 p.m. Sunday, Indianapolis, KTVT/11

Records: Michigan, 28-8, 15-3 Big Ten; Kentucky 27-10, 12-6 SEC

Head to head

Category Michigan Kentucky
Scoring offense 74.0 75.4
Scoring defense 64.8 66.5
Scoring margin 9.2 8.9
Field goal % .477 .451
3-point FGs .402 .326

Frontcourt

Michigan: Glenn Robinson III has become this team’s primary frontcourt player after the Wolverines lost Mitch McGary to injury. Robinson averages 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. Jordan Morgan is a load underneath, but he is not a first-look option.

Kentucky: Julius Randle is a beast. He can take defenders off the dribble, and is an active around the rim. Dakari Johnson’s strength is that he is a 7-footer, but he is not skilled. James Young can score, but this frontcourt is built around Randle’s considerable talents.

Edge: Kentucky. Randle will be one the of top three players selected in the June NBA Draft. Morgan has made tremendous strides, as has Robinson, but this area is Kentucky’s strength. Kentucky has too much active, quality height in this department. Morgan is good, and wide, but he is going to need help.

Backcourt

Michigan: Derrick Walton has done a nice job of replacing Trey Burke, who is in the NBA. Caris LeVert is a major matchup problem. He is 6-foot-6 and shoots better than 40 percent from 3-point range, but these guards are built around Nik Stauskas.

Kentucky: It took twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison a while, but they have come around and are a big reason why Kentucky is in the Elite Eight. They both average more than 10 points per game, and more than three assists. At 6-foot-6, they are major matchup problems for other guards.

Edge: Michigan. Stauskas has made a major jump from last season when he was just an outside shooter. This is where Michigan can win this game, provided it can get space over the taller Harrison twins. Michigan is one of the best shooting teams in the nation. Kentucky, however, tends to be a bit erratic shooting. If it’s making perimeter shots, this is a going to be a major problem for Michigan.

Bench

Michigan: Jon Horford would be a legit scoring threat off the bench if he had the touches. Spike Albrecht is too small to make an impact, other than the spot-up 3-pointer.

Kentucky: Alex Poythress is a nice, tall bench piece who could start for countless other power-conference teams. He can buy minutes for Johnson or Randle with no big dip on defense, but he is no offensive star.

Edge: Even. These teams are built on their starting five.

Coaching

Michigan: This is one of John Beilein’s better teams. He likes shooters and he wants to score.

Kentucky: In each of the past two games against higher-seeded teams, Kentucky had to rally late to win. John Calipari is often labeled as just a “recruiter,” but as a game coach he is obviously no bum.

Edge: Calipari. He has better talent.

Bottom line

Michigan has more experience and more reliable perimeter shooting, but Kentucky is too talented, too big and playing too well to lose. The Wildcats are much better than they were six weeks ago, and now they look like a team that is playing together and has a clue to complement their tremendous talent. — Mac Engel

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