The Michigan Wolverines began the year ranked in the Top Ten nationally by virtually every single sports publication, but now find themselves fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives with a record of 10-7 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten after Wednesday night’s close home win against the Northwestern Wildcats.
One former Michigan Wolverine who knows all too well the importance of rivalry games is Tim McCormick, a basketball analyst for Bally Sports Detroit who won the 1983-1984 National Invitation Tournament MVP Award with the Wolverines.
McCormick averaged 9.8 points over three seasons in Ann Arbor to go along with 5.3 rebounds per game, and also carved out a solid role in the National Basketball Association, averaging 8.3 points over 10 seasons after being selected number 12 overall in the 1984 NBA Draft.
On Friday, January 28, McCormick released his top four keys to a Wolverines victory over Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.
Michigan plays the Spartans on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., in a game that could change the entire trajectory of their season much like back in 2011.
That’s when John Beilein’s underdog Wolverines defeated MSU on the road en route to securing their second NCAA Tournament bid under Beilein, perhaps saving his job in the process (check out game action below via RxWolverine on YouTube).
Michigan was led by unlikely heroes Zack Novak and Stu Douglass among others.
Tim McCormick’s Keys to Saturday’s Game are as Follows:
1. Hunter Dickinson Must Be the Best Player on the Court-
Dickinson, a 7-foot-1 sophomore from Alexandria, Virginia, has added a three-point shot to his arsenal in 2021-2022, and has quietly become an even more dominant player overall than he was as a freshman.
McCormick believes that Dickinson must lead the way against an MSU frontline led by talented but raw 7-foot, 230 pound starting center Marcus Bingham, who is averaging 9.8 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game on 56.6% shooting from the field.
2. Michigan Must “Search for Their Midrange Game”-
McCormick added that he doesn’t believe Michigan State will leave senior Eli Brooks and freshman Caleb Houstan open from three-point land, putting the onus on the mid-range game.
Dickinson, Brandon Johns, Jr., and to a lesser extent Moussa Diabaté are all among the capable players Michigan has from mid-range, but hitting those shots could be a tall task against MSU’s length and overall defense, which is ranked fourth in the Big Ten.
3. The Wolverines Must “Hit the Offensive Glass”-
Michigan had just one offensive rebound against Northwestern, and that simply won’t cut it against an active Michigan State team on the road.
With so many young players on Juwan Howard’s roster, each possession will matter that much more against the Spartans.
4. Michigan Should Aim to Force at Least 15 Turnovers to Win-
Michigan has the athletes to be disruptive on defense, although they still have a lot of improvements to make.
McCormick believes that forcing turnovers could be another key to victory for Michigan on the road.
Michigan at Michigan State will be broadcast on CBS at 12:30 p.m. EST on Saturday.
For more information including radio broadcast channels, learn more here.
Follow Tim McCormick on Twitter for more analysis here, and check out a few highlights of his NBA playing career below.