Michigan Wolverines basketball is set to begin year two under head coach Juwan Howard by hosting the Bowling Green Falcons in an almost-empty Crisler Center. The Maize and Blue finished the abridged 2019-20 season with a 19-12 record, while Bowling Green went 26-12.
The Falcons, led by sixth-year head coach Michael Huger, were picked to finish first in the MAC this season, while the Wolverines were picked to conclude sixth in the Big Ten, according to an unofficial media poll.
Find our preview for the game below, including a breakdown of both team’s key players and a Q&A with Nicholas Piotrowicz of the Toledo Blade to get more insight on the Falcons.
The Basics: Michigan Basketball vs. Bowling Green
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 25
Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Crisler Center (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Line: Michigan -14
Kenpom Prediction: Michigan 83, Bowling Green 65
Michigan Wolverines Projected Lineup
#12 – Fifth-year senior guard Mike Smith (5-11, 185) — Columbia grad transfer who averaging an Ivy League and team-best 22.8 points per tilt last year … Also averaged a team-high 4.5 assists per contest.
#55 – Senior guard Eli Brooks (6-1, 185) — Posted 10.6 points per game and scored in double figures 13 times a year ago … Shot the three at 36.4 percent … Will play more on the ball this season after point guard Zavier Simpson‘s graduation.
#21 – Sophomore guard Franz Wagner (6-9, 220) — Added 15 pounds during the offseason and is reportedly up to 6-foot-10 … Averaged 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game … After a healthy offseason, is expected to significantly raise his shooting percentage of 31.1 percent from last season.
#2 – Senior forward Isaiah Livers (6-7, 230) — Declared for the NBA Draft but returned for his senior season after missing 10 games due to injury a year ago … Is a career 40.4 percent three-point shooter … Tied for the team-high at 12.9 points per game and added 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per tilt last year.
#51 – Fifth-year senior forward Austin Davis (6-10, 250) — Likely to make his first career start against Bowling Green … Averaged just 10.7 minutes per game last season but was uber-productive while on the floor (18.3 and 9.7 rebounds per 40 minutes of action).
Key Bench Players
#15 – Senior guard Chaundee Brown (6-5, 215) — Transferred from Wake Forest and was granted immediate eligibility from the NCAA … High level defender and rebounder who averaged 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in the ACC last season.
#1 – Freshman center Hunter Dickinson (7-1, 255) — Was a four-star recruit and Rivals.com’s No. 40 player nationally … Is a contender to start at center, but is expected to replace Davis off the bench to begin the season (though head coach Juwan Howard has not announced a starting lineup).
#23 – Junior forward Brandon Johns Jr. (6-8, 240) — Will be featured as both a power forward and small-ball five … Averaged 6.0 points per game and grabbed 3.9 rebounds.
Bowling Green Falcons Projected Lineup
#1 – Fifth-year senior guard Justin Turner (6-4, 205) — Was first-team All-MAC two straight years as a redshirt sophomore and redshirt junior … Averaged 19.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last season.
#3 Junior guard Caleb Fields (6-2, 185) — Averaged 6.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game last season.
#11 – Senior guard/forward Trey Diggs (6-6, 210) — Posted 7.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest last year, and shot 37.1 percent from three.
#25 – Senior guard/forward Daeqwuon Plowden (6-6, 215) — Second-team All-MAC honoree last season who averaged 12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and shot 48.8 percent from the floor and 35.9 percent from long range.
#21 – Redshirt junior forward Matiss Kulackovskis (6-9, 215) — Averaged 4.0 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season in 11.1 minutes off the bench.
Key Bench Players
#4 – Sophomore guard Davin Zeigler (6-3, 175) — Contributed 2.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per contest a year ago.
#13 – Sophomore guard/forward Chandler Turner (6-7, 195) — Averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game last season while shooting 46.2 percent from the field.
Kenpom Preseason Adjusted Efficiency Ratings
There are 350 teams in Division I
Q&A With Nicholas Piotrowicz Of The Toledo Blade
The Wolverine: Bowling Green was picked first in the MAC in the preseason. What are your expectations for the year?
Piotrowicz: This is definitely a MAC-title-or-bust year for BG, so I expect them to be a 20-plus-win team if a full season is played. If all goes to plan, they should be in the top two of the MAC during the regular season and make a run to the conference title game. Anything less than the NCAA tournament would be a disappointment for this team.
The Wolverine: What can you tell us about Justin Turner and how much of an impact he has in the backcourt? Same question for Daeqwon Plowden in the frontcourt?
Piotrowicz: Turner is a really gifted scorer. He never looks like he’s moving that fast, but he always seems to get to his spots because he’s deceptive and can play with or without the ball, which helps them lineup-wise.
Plowden is a major-conference athlete who really worked himself into being a well-rounded player. He can play 20 feet out on offense and still hang in the post on defense, so they’ll move him around to create matchup issues. He’s one of the most valuable players in the MAC.
The Wolverine: What do you expect the strength of this Falcons’ team to be?
Piotrowicz: On paper, they have the look. Traditionally, the mid-major teams that win games in the NCAA tournament have a handful of veterans, a pro-caliber player who big schools missed, and a couple of guys off the bench who can change a game. BG has all three. Their best lineups are small, so size disadvantages will be something to watch, and there are no guarantees in a one-bid league — but there is some real potential in this roster.
The Wolverine: Michigan is a 14-point favorite. What is your prediction as far as a score and how the game will play out?
Piotrowicz: I think we’re in for some ugly basketball in general for the first couple of weeks. There was essentially no summer and workouts have had so many disruptions that it’ll take some time, I think, for teams to figure themselves out.
Michigan is more talented, but BG is pretty experienced and good enough to make this interesting. I think they’ll hang around before Michigan wins. 67-61.
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