After willing its way to a three-point victory over Missouri
last week, Michigan will try to repeat the feat against the
Tigers’ Big 12 rival, Oklahoma. There are still tickets left
for tonight’s game, but not many — 6,000 were sold in
the first 24 hours after this matchup was announced.

Point guard

Daniel Horton — The 6-foot-3 Texan has had an
up-and-down season, but he appears to be hitting an upswing at the
right time. After falling short of the double-digit scoring mark in
seven of the team’s 16 conference games, Horton has found his
stroke of late, averaging 16.7 per game since the regular season
ended.

Drew Lavender — The 5-foot-7 freshman provides
Oklahoma with the type of ball control that Michigan probably
wishes it had. The All-Big XII Freshman team selection dished out
116 assists compared to 79 turnovers, and Lavender also led the
Sooners in scoring with 11.6 points per game.

Edge:  OU

 

Shooting Guard

Dion Harris — Since taking over for Lester Abram in
the starting lineup, Harris has flourished. The freshman seemed to
hit the wall at the end of the Big Ten season — with the low
point coming in his scoreless performance against Indiana . But
Harris has rebounded to score 23, 11 and 12 in his three postseason
games.

Jason Detrick — Detrick and De’Angelo
Alexander are interchangeable at the shooting guard and small
forward positions. As the lone Sooner senior, Detrick averaged 11.5
points this year, but has struggled from the outside, shooting just
25 percent from beyond the arc.

Edge:  Even

 

Small Forward

Bernard Robinson — “Mr. Everything” has
continued to do it all. Aside from scoring 12 points per game this
season, Robinson has been big in other areas, averaging six boards
per game since the end of the regular season and dishing out 16
assists over those three games. Robinson has also been
Michigan’s best defender and should match up well with
Oklahoma’s De’Angelo Alexander.

De’Angelo Alexander — At just 6-foot-5,
Alexander is quietly one of the best rebounders on the Sooners,
grabbing five boards a game. Alexander put up 10 points a game this
season. But he could be outmatched if he’s forced to deal
with the Wolverines’ Bernard Robinson, who would pose severe
matchup problems for Alexander on both ends of the court.

Edge:  Michigan

 

Power Forward

Graham Brown — Brown has scored just four points
over Michigan’s last three games. The sophomore’s
biggest contribution against Oklahoma will likely come on the
boards, where he has grabbed seven, four and five rebounds over
Michigan’s last three contests. His 6-foot-9, 255 pound frame
will also give him a size advantage over Oklahoma’s smaller
front line, but his lack of quickness could be a problem.

Brandon Foust — His stats won’t scare anyone,
but Foust’s play as of late has him clicking at the right
time. After scoring just under four points a game during the
season, Foust has exploded for 15 points and six boards a game in
the Sooners’ last two games. He was 8-for-12 with 19 points
in Oklahoma’s win over LSU last week, and his quick shooting
ability could be a problem for Graham Brown.

Edge:  OU

 

Center

Courtney Sims — Sims posted his second career
double-double against Illinois after playing poorly against Iowa in
the Big Ten Tournament. Sims’ eight points and 10 rebounds
against Missouri — a team with size in the middle —
could increase against Oklahoma, who is thinner and shorter up
front.

Johnnie Gilbert — Gilbert was forced into the
starting lineup after Kevin Bookout had season-ending shoulder
surgery on Feb. 5. A month later, star center Jabahri Brown was
kicked off the team, paving the way for Gilbert’s move to
center. He’s the team’s leading shot blocker, but at
just 6-foot-8, Gilbert could struggle with Courtney Sims’s
long reach in the paint.

Edge:  Michigan

 

Bench

Michigan Bench — If leading scorer Lester Abram can
play for Michigan after being sidelined for two straight games
after suffering an injury against Iowa, the Wolverines have a huge
edge. But if Abram — who began light shooting again on Friday
— cannot go, sophomore Sherrod Harrell will have to step in
and pick up the slack. Sophomore Chris Hunter and freshman Brent
Petway will also be keys off the bench.

Oklahoma Bench — The Sooners’ bench was
thinned considerably by the losses of Bookout and Brown. But
6-foot-11 Larry Turner has improved and could be slipped into the
starting lineup to match up with Sims. Guards Lawrence McKenzie and
Jaison Williams, who averages eight and six points a game,
respectively, can provide a spark on the offensive end. The problem
for Oklahoma comes if Michigan gets Gilbert and Turner in foul
trouble.

Edge:  Michigan

 

Coaching

Tommy Amaker — Michigan coach Tommy Amaker has
never faced Oklahoma in his career at Michigan. This year marks
Amaker’s fourth career trip to the NIT — including
three trips as coach at Seton Hall, where he was bounced in the
first round each time. Overall, Amaker’s 19 wins so far this
season have given him 47 total at Michigan and 115 overall.

Kelvin Sampson — Back when Michigan was sorting
through the Brian Ellerbe mess, Sampson was up there with Tommy
Amaker and Rick Pitino as the top three candidates to take over the
job. But Sampson stuck at Oklahoma, where he has proven himself as
one of the better coaches in the Big XII. With the win over LSU,
Sampson wrapped up his seventh-straight 20-win year at
Oklahoma.

Edge:  OU

 

In a game between two evenly-matched teams, the ultimate edge
will come from Michigan’s home-court advantage. Crisler was as loud
as its ever been last Tuesday against Missouri, and the arena was
just half full. Michigan will take advantage of its size in the
middle and its deeper bench to advance to the NIT
quarterfinals.

Prediction:  Michigan, 73-67

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.