Three For Hope, Three For Nope: Colorado State
Michigan's first-round NCAA Tournament game provides some fascinating matchups. Can the Wolverines overcome the absence of DeVante' Jones?
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If you missed it, the free podcast went out last night. We even caught the (unfortunately true) rumor about DeVante’ Jones early enough to include the possibility of his absence in our analysis.
I can’t in good conscience call any season in which Michigan makes the tournament a cursed one. I remember the Ellerbe and Amaker days too well.
DeVante’ Jones suffered a concussion in practice, leaving Michigan without their point guard and #2 scoring option. His replacement, freshman Frankie Collins, has never started and played double-digit minutes only once in the last 14 games. The new first guard off the bench, freshman Kobe Bufkin, didn’t see the floor in Juwan Howard’s return to the bench for the Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan becomes a totally different team with Collins manning the point. The offense, as you’d expect, takes a significant hit. The team’s defense, however, has more than made up the gap with Collins on the floor instead of Jones.
Against top-100 competition, according to Pivot Analysis, Michigan has actually been slightly worse than their opposition — two points per 100 possessions, to be precise — with Jones on the court. Despite the offense dropping more than ten points per 100 possessions with Collins on the floor, a huge defensive improvement makes Michigan +3.3 points/100 poss. in those minutes.
Of course, Juwan Howard has been able to pick his spots with Collins, a luxury he won’t have without Jones available. There’s also the dropoff from having Collins as the third guard to that player being Bufkin, who’s had a slightly negative overall impact on M’s performance against top-100 teams.
Michigan may be able to grind out a win without Jones. Colorado State has some vulnerabilities that aren’t impacted by his absence. Advancing past this weekend, though, is going to be a difficult task.
Let’s focus on CSU. I’ve watched portions of a few of their games, focusing on their matchups with common opponent San Diego State. Michigan beat the Aztecs 72-58 in Crisler back in December. The Rams met SDSU three times, winning by a point at home and losing twice (49-79 at SDSU, 58-63 in the Mountain West tourney).
Here are some player and scheme takeaways: three that portend success for Michigan and three that do not.