One of the best games in the ACC/BIG-10 challenge will go down tonight in Ann Arbor with the Michigan Wolverines hosting the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavaliers enter this match-up with a 5-0 record and ranked third in the latest AP poll. We’ll be breaking down the game and then getting into what side you should be backing as well.
Much like every other team in the Tony Bennett era this years Virginia Cavaliers play an incredibly high level of defense and control the tempo for efficient looks on offense. The 5-0 Cavaliers are allowing an average of only 57.6 points per game and on offense, they possess the fifth-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the entire country.
The Cavaliers were able to pick up two nice wins already this season over Illinois and Baylor so the Wolverines will not be their first test this season. Reece Beekman and Armaan Franklin have paced this Virginia team in scoring both averaging in double figures. Beekman also leads the team in steals with an average of 2.2 per game.
An interesting element of tonight’s game will be if Michigan star freshman Jett Howard can produce on the offensive end like has been against this stellar Cavaliers defense. Howard is averaging 15.2 points per game and shooting 43.9% from three.
The offense has not been a problem for the Wolverines this season behind Howard and star big man Hunter Dickinson. The 5-1 Wolverines have been able to score an average of 77.3% but they have struggled early this season on the defensive end and putting teams away when they need to.
Michigan has yet to play a ranked opponent but they are still allowing an average of 70 points per game to be scored. The Wolverines have not been able to create turnovers so far this season and rank 274th in the country in opponents' turnovers per game with only 11.5.
The Virginia Cavaliers are currently -3.5 point favorites on the road tonight and I think they are the right bet to make in this one. Virginia knows how to do all the fundamental things to win and control a big game like this and I don’t think this Michigan team does yet.
Virginia has a big advantage when it comes to rebounding tonight, the Cavaliers are holding their opponents to an average of just 17 defensive rebounds per game and 6.8 offensive rebounds per game. Michigan is allowing 25.8 defensive rebounds per game and has only a 24% offensive rebounding percentage. This is one of the fundamental things I was referring to before if Virginia controls they will control the entire game.
I don’t think Michigan has faced a truly efficient offense yet much like the one the Cavaliers run. Virginia averages 17.4 assists per game and gets to the free-throw line the third most in the entire country. The veteran play styles of Kihei Clark and Jayden Gardner are going to be too much for this Michigan team to handle leading to a Virginia win and cover.