46ºF

Can Michigan basketball continue incredible early run and take down No. 1 Louisville?

No. 4 Wolverines face first true road test

Zavier Simpson #3, Isaiah Livers #4 and Jon Teske #15, of the Michigan Wolverines, on the bench during the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Honda Center on March 28, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (2019 Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan is the talk of the college basketball universe after sweeping the loaded Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, but an even tougher test awaits as the Wolverines hit the road to take on No. 1 Louisville.

The Cardinals took over the top spot in the AP poll thanks to a 7-0 start and an average margin of victory higher than 20 points. Louisville’s signature win came on the road against Miami by 13 points.

While Louisville took over the top spot in the rankings, Michigan made by far the largest leap. The Wolverines tied a record by going from unranked to No. 4 in the AP poll, trailing just Louisville, Kansas and Maryland.

The winner of this game will have the inside track to being No. 1 in next week’s poll. Louisville would obviously maintain its hold on the top spot with a win over a fellow top-five team. Michigan, meanwhile, already has wins over No. 7 North Carolina and No. 9 Gonzaga. A road win over No. 1 would certainly propel Michigan even higher.

Game details: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Betting line: Louisville -5.5

Louisville is led by one of the top players in the country: Jordan Nwora. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 21.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50% from the field and beyond the arc. He also shoots 90% from the foul line.

Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon and Steven Enoch also average in double figures for the Cardinals.

Battle 4 Atlantis most outstanding player Jon Teske will be key for Michigan on the glass. He’s averaging 13.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game this year.

Isaiah Livers leads the Wolverines at 17 points per game. He’s shooting better than 50% from the floor and from beyond the arc.

Zavier Simpson is the heart and soul of this Michigan basketball team, with impressive averages of 12.3 points, 9.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. But he’s turning the ball over 3.7 times per game and has dealt with foul trouble early in the season.

When Simpson is off the floor, Eli Brooks and David DeJulius have stepped up as scorers, combining for 21.3 points per game so far. They’re both solid three-point shooters who have shown an ability to get to the basket, as well.

The last meeting between Michigan and Louisville came in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, when the seventh-seeded Wolverines upset the second-seeded Cardinals to advance to the Sweet 16.

Xavier Simpson #3 of the Michigan Wolverines drives against Tony Hicks #1 of the Louisville Cardinals in the first half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Before that, the two teams met in the 2013 national championship game, with Louisville taking home the crown. Louisville leads the all-time head-to-head series 3-1, with wins in 1977 and 1978. All four meetings have been decided by six or fewer points.

Kenpom ratings suggest Louisville should win this matchup, especially at home. Louisville is the No. 1 team in the rankings, while Michigan is No. 10.


About the Author: