Stats tell story, Michigan favored at Wisconsin
Thursday, the Michigan women’s basketball team has another chance at history.
With 123 career victories, coach Kim Barnes Arico sits tied with Sue Guevara for the most in the program history. This will be the Wolverines’ (1-1 Big Ten, 12-3 overall) second attempt to put their coach atop the all-time list after losing this past Sunday to No. 18 Iowa.
But No. 22 Michigan should feel confident to do so against a meager Wisconsin squad.
While the Badgers record (0-2,7-8) isn’t atrocious, statistically, they’re a mess.
Wisconsin ranks last in the Big Ten in points per game (63.3), blocked shots (45) and three-point percentage (.286). They also rank second-to-last in free-throw percentage (.664) and steals (90). To make matters worse, they’re third worst in turnover margin (-2.1), scoring margin (0.1), field goal percentage (.405). and three-pointers per game (4.9).
And despite being a conference matchup, don’t expect much support from the Badgers fans, who are as reliable as the team is on the court. Wisconsin is last in the Big Ten in attendance.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, the conference title isn’t decided based on defensive rebounding percentage, where they rank first at .734. But even this is nullified when considering that they rank 10th in offensive rebounding; this deficiency should only be amplified by Michigan’s first ranked defensive rebounding.
These overall pitiful numbers only project to be even worse against a staunch Wolverine team.
Under the leadership of senior guard Katelynn Flaherty and senior forward Jillian Dunston, Michigan hasn’t just been beating teams – but dominating them.
The Wolverines have outscored their opponents by an astounding 17.5 points and have won by a double digit scoring margin in all but two victories. Expect more of the same on Thursday.
Look for scoring catalyst Flaherty – who averages 22.8 points per game – to have a field day against a poor Wisco defense. Oh yeah, don’t forget Hallie Thome. The junior center has been tearing up defenses down low, averaging 16 points and 7.1 rebounds.
And don’t expect the deplorable Badgers’ offense to suddenly come alive. Michigan’s defense has been as good, if not better, than its offense. The Wolverines rank second in the Big Ten in defense, allowing just 58.7 points per game.
The defensive anchor this season (and last) has undoubtedly been Dunston. The forward is fourth in the conference with 9.9 rebounds and 12th in steals with 1.8. What makes Dunston particularly potent is her ability to guard multiple positions. Barnes Arico has often pointed out how Dunston usually defends the other team’s best player regardless of position.
So don’t be surprised to see Dunston matched up against guard Cayla McMorris. The senior received a nod as a All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2017 and is currently averaging 14.6 points.
But it would realistically take a career day from McMorris for Wisconsin to come out triumphant.
Especially considering that despite Barnes Arico finding success in years prior, and holding the program’s highest winning percentage at .651, this may be her best squad yet.
So yes, even coming off a loss, the Wolverines should feel buoyant in their ability to get Barnes Arico that illustrious win.