The Michigan women’s basketball is eager to return home.
Following a blowout loss to No. 5 Louisville last week, the Wolverines (2-1 overall) will look to get back in the win column against in-state foe Oakland (2-2) on Wednesday night.
“It’s a real important bounce-back game for us,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico on WTKA. “An opportunity to play at home again and an opportunity to respond to our Louisville game.”
For No. 24 Michigan, Crisler Center is a haven in which it has won 29 of its last 30 games dating back to the 2015-16 season. One of those victories came against the Golden Grizzlies last November, when the Wolverines topped them, 101-63.
But this is a new year with two new teams.
Offensively, the teams differ stylistically. For Michigan, over one-third of its points come from guard Katelynn Flaherty. So far this season, the senior is averaging 24 points per game, as well as a team-high four assists. Under her helm, the Wolverines run a high powered offense in which they shoot the ball around 53 times a game – converting on 43.7 percent of their attempts.
On the other side, Oakland runs a more holistic offense with no primary scorer, as five Golden Grizzlies average double figure point totals. Oakland’s ability to score with multiple players stems from its high output of shots. The Golden Grizzlies attempt just over 63 field goals a game, but convert on just 37.5 percent.
Despite the varying approaches, the two teams’ offensive output is eerily similar. Both teams average 66 points per game and have similar assists per game, turnover rates, three-point percentages and rebounds.
On offense, the difference may come down to the free-throw line where Michigan has a slight edge – making about 15 free throws per game to the Golden Grizzlies’ 11.
The Wolverines will also look to take advantage of Oakland’s lackluster defense that gives up 71 points per game. The Golden Grizzlies’ struggles stem from an inefficiency in the paint, where they allow 32 points per game.
This should allow for a big day from junior center Hallie Thome, Michigan’s second-leading scorer. Freshman forward Hailey Brown – who has started all three games – could also be poised for a strong performance in the post. With the two playing off one another, they should be able to capitalize on Oakland’s weak interior.
But the Wolverines biggest advantage may simply be playing at home. Both Michigan wins this season have been in Ann Arbor, where they have outscored opponents 149 to 111. The Golden Grizzlies, on the other hand, are 0-2 on the road and have lost by a combined margin of 50 points.
Despite similar statistics, home court advantage and Oakland’s defensive deficiencies should give the Wolverines all they need for the victory.