Date: Thursday, January 18th
Time: 8:00 pm CST
Location: Lincoln, NE
Coach: John Beilein (11th season)
2016-17 Record: 26-12 (10-8 Big Ten)
2017-18 Record: 16-4 (5-2 Big Ten)
Ranking: 23 AP/24 Coaches
It was a good year for the Wolverines in 2016-17. A mixture of the right talent, a down Big Ten conference, and good coaching helped them establish enough momentum throughout the year to end on a fairly strong note and make a nice run through the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan ended the regular season tied for 5th in the conference and earned the 8th seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They then made a nice run to the championship game where they defeated Wisconsin in decisive fashion 71-56.
The NCAA Tournament was up next for the squad. They defeated Oklahoma State and #10 Louisville in the opening rounds before being defeated by #9 Oregon in a 68-69 loss that ended their season.
Senior point guard Derrick Walton earned Big Ten Second Team honors while sophomore forward Mortiz Wagner and senior guard Zak Irvin earned honorable mentions.
Michigan is having another decent season so far. They are currently 16-4 with losses to LSU, #13 North Carolina, Ohio State, and #5 Purdue. None of which are terrible to have on the resume. Well, maybe the LSU loss. That could come back to bite them. Most recently they upset instate rival and then #4 ranked Michigan State 82-72.
The Wolverines are lead by returning starter Mortiz Wagner. The forward is averaging 14.9 ppg and 7.2 rpg. His game has improved since his stellar season last year and will be an immediate threat for the Huskers. He is a talented and gritty player who will do what he can to score and rebound. Mortiz gave Michigan State problems all game in the win and I can’t imagine he will let up against Nebraska.
A big addition to the team this year is Charles Matthews. The junior guard who transferred to Michigan from Kentucky is averaging 14.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 3.0 apg. His input has been huge for a team that lost a lot of talent last season. He is a bit turnover prone so the Huskers will want to put pressure on him early. Michigan itself is a low turnover team so if the Huskers want to make it happen, it will be up against Matthews.
Also of note is Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Both of these senior guards have been instrumental in getting the ball in the right hands during the game and will give the Huskers problems on Thursday night. If needed, each can also be a problem beyond the arch. Nebraska will need to keep an eye on both if they want a chance to pull off this upset in Lincoln.
Nebraska is coming off a heartbreaking loss and a last second win the past two games. Neither one was pretty and until they start cleaning up their game they will continue to have problems. Having Jordy back after a two game absence should help but they will need help from the big guys off the bench in this one.
Michigan is beatable but I think the will still have the upper hand at this point in the season against the Big Red.
University of Michigan 75 University of Nebraska 68