Know your enemy: Michigan State seeks to antagonize Big Ten’s top dog at Michigan’s No. 4
Now it’s the ladies’ turn.
The Michigan women’s basketball team is coming to town and this time not only are they ranked #4 in the nation, but they’re also #1 in the Big Ten and on an 8-0 winning streak. after surviving No. 21 at Iowa. earn number 20 for the ninth time in just ten years under UM Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico.
According to ESPN’s Charlie CremeMichigan is expected to be a No. 2 seed against Fairfield, a No. 15 seed, in their hometown of Ann Arbor.
It’s going to be brutal for Michigan State, that’s for sure. The Spartans are 12-10 overall and 6-5 in conference.
The Wolverines are 20-2 overall and 11-1 in conference. The match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network.
This week, Sara Tidwell, women’s basketball editor for The State News, spoke with Jack Glanville of the Michigan Daily ahead of the Spartans’ game with the Wolverines.
Q: At No. 1 in conference and No. 4 overall, what did UM do right? What, if anything, did they struggle with? Biggest strengths and weaknesses?
A: Michigan thrives in paint. They have outshot and outshot teams in the paint by a wide margin in almost every game. Although part of it has to do with senior striker Naz Hillmon playing exceptionally well, everyone contributes. The high-low game between striker Emily Kiser and Hillmon gives defense shots. On the glass, Hillmon and Kiser grab their fair share of rebounds, but the guards have been productive as well.
Michigan’s biggest weakness is probably ball safety. The team struggled to deal with a trap or full-court pressure during the season, especially if they weren’t expecting it. After a few possessions they adjust normally and figure out how to break the press. Also, when the offense is sluggish, Michigan guards will sometimes force passes to Hillmon in the post. As the season progressed, this happened less frequently.
The last thing is the three-point shot. Although Michigan has excellent three-point shooters, like junior guard Maddie Nolan, filming fluctuated. The three-point shot was inconsistent.
Q: Wolverines were missing one of their best senior wingers Leigha Brown, against Iowa. But that didn’t seem to matter. In the light of his bench, who stood up? I see The Daily wrote a story about their deep talents and how their bench made them stronger. I also see they have a reliable freshman in Laila Pheliamuch like MSU does in Matilda Ekh.
A: First-year guard Laila Phelia stepped up against Iowa. She picked up Brown’s scoring charge – posting a career-high 24 points. Phelia also played outstanding defense against Iowa sophomore Caitlin Clark. It’s not something you normally say when someone is down 46 points, but Phelia stayed ahead of Clark most possessions. A lot of Clark’s points came from three-pointers and wild comebacks late in the game.
Typically, Hillmon and senior guard Leigha Brown are the Wolverines’ two biggest offensive strengths. Nolan sometimes has a big game when she enters the space behind the arc. Kiser can exploit shifts, as opposing teams usually place their best inside defender on Hillmon. Senior Guard Danielle Rauch has grown in her role as a starting point guard and seems more confident to lead the attack in every game.
No one else is currently missing and it’s unclear if Brown will play Thursday. She is currently day to day with a left leg injury. Brown is injured. She’s able to create her own shot on the perimeter, and especially in the mid-range, which is what the rest of the roster struggles with.
Thanks to Abbie Telgenhof for write on depth, It was a good article. Phelia was an excellent goalscorer off the bench. Main Guard Amy Dilk – who was the starter until his injury at the start of the season – brings his composure and experience as a backup playmaker. Second-year forward Cameron Williams really grew as a scorer over the season, grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring in the paint at ease. Conclude the rotation is second guard/forward Elise Stuck. Stuck brings energy. She frequently dives for loose balls and drawing charges.
Q: What must UM do to not fall victim to this machine, like Nebraska did on Dec. 30, 2021, and overcome a potentially big fourth quarter, like they did against Iowa last weekend?
A: Once Michigan has a lead, they usually don’t let go. It took a Clark performance that Barnes Arico called “pretty ridiculous” to put Iowa back in the game. But, Michigan State excelled in the fourth quarter. Not to fall victim to Spartan’s comeback tendencies, Michigan can’t let go — which hasn’t been a problem — and hopes Clouden doesn’t start hitting the 35-footer.
Seriously, Clouden could pose some challenges for the Wolverine defense, as they are better at defending the paint than the perimeter. Good players find a way to make good plays, and Clouden has proven herself to be a good player. If Michigan can keep her in check, they should take an early lead and have no problem keeping her.
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Q: What is your score prediction and why?
A: I think Michigan will leave East Lansing with the win, 72-56. Michigan State’s strength is in the guard position, so I think Michigan’s control of the glass and paint will thrive against the Spartans. Also, I don’t think Michigan State has the ability to slow down Hillmon on the offensive side. However, with Michigan State having a strong backcourt, they’re going to find ways to score and keep it relatively close. Home court could play a role as well, but at the end of the day Michigan proved they are an elite team and I expect them to prove it again on Thursday.
Q: We are in the last 5 games of the regular season. Looking forward to tournament season, how far do you think Michigan will go? They obviously have the Big Ten title in the palm of their hand, but what about the NCAA Tournament? What is your prediction and why?
A: I think Michigan will win the Big Ten regular season, for all the reasons listed. here.
Going into the Big Ten tournament, it gets fuzzier. If Indiana has junior forward Mackenzie Holmes back, they have an excellent chance of winning the Big Ten tournament. Iowa and Clark can catch fire any night, so there’s always a chance they’ll find a way to win the tournament. If I had to choose a winner of the Big Ten tournament, I would choose Michigan.
When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, I go back and forth between a Final Four appearance and the Elite Eight. The Wolverines should have no problem getting to the Sweet Sixteen with their dominance in the paint. And if the three-point shots go down, Michigan can hang on to anyone. This leads me to believe that the Elite Eight is a huge possibility. But the three-point shot hasn’t been a very reliable form of scoring. This could be Wolverines’ downfall as they progress further and further in the tournament. Guess I’ll make up my mind and say Elite Eight – final answer.
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