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Previewing Michigan: Caris LeVert, Wolverines bring another three-heavy offense to Raleigh

Adidas, why must you do these things?
Adidas, why must you do these things?
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 7 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Dec. 1


Online streaming:WatchESPN

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Michigan vitals

Record: 4-2
Pomeroy ranking: No. 35
Best win: 78-72 over Texas (KenPom No. 42)
Worst loss: 74-60 to UConn (KenPom No. 22)

Adjusted tempo: 66.1 poss/40 minutes (ranks 337th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 114.5 (ranks 7th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 99.8 (ranks 119th)

Michigan roster
Michigan schedule
Michigan stats 2015-2016

The Michigan offense and starters

MIchigan Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 49.4 (146) 15.6 (11) 25.5 (325) 26.6 (350)
2015-16 59.3 (12) 15.6 (54) 26.3 (258) 31.0 (277)

With some exceptions here and there, you know what you're going to get from John Beilein's Michigan offenses: the Wolverines tend to be efficient through good shooting, taking a whole bunch of threes, and avoiding turnovers; they typically ignore offensive boards, and they don't generate a lot of trips to the free throw line.

They're also slow-paced. While the shortened shot clock has added about six possessions per 40 minutes to UM's games this season, they're still near the bottom of D-I in tempo. That's the way Beilein likes it, and it's hard to argue with the results.

Michigan appears to have regained its shooting form after an injury-plagued 2014-15 season led some uncharacteristically substandard production from inside and beyond the arc. They are coming into the game Tuesday on fire, having posted an eFG% above 70.0 in each of their last two contests.

The Wolverines are shooting 44.9% (7th nationally) from three-point range, while 45.2% (25th nationally) of their attempts have come from outside. Yes, folks, as if we haven't been tortured enough by the three-ball this season, we now get to contend with what has so far been an elite perimeter-oriented offense. Joy.

I figure the Martin twins will be crucial on the defensive side, what with all the rangy wing types that Michigan can put out on the floor, including leading scorer Caris LeVert, who is listed at 6'7.

LeVert is part of a backcourt trio that's been the backbone of Michigan's offense, though deciphering this team's rotation is next to impossible right now. Nine players are averaging at least 10 minutes per game, while a total of 12 guys have played in at least five of the Wolverines' games.


Derrick Walton (6-1, 190) -- Walton is second on the team in scoring thanks to a blazin' 14-20 start from beyond the arc. He's not quite that good from outside, but dude is better than 40% from deep in 2+ seasons. He's got a good assist rate, though the turnover rate is a bit high. He's also been excellent at generating steals.

Caris LeVert (6-7, 205) -- Hey, speakin' of good outside shooting, LeVert is off to a 12-20 start himself. (Are you starting to see why the Wolverines' team 3FG% is so good early on?) LeVert is the unquestioned leader at the offensive end, and willing create some offense off the bounce. He's a career 39.9% three-point shooter, though just a 43.8% shooter inside the arc. Given a choice, it's clear where you'd prefer he do his shooting. He is a good passer who can also draw fouls at a decent clip.

Aubrey Dawkins (6-6, 205) -- Look, another good three-point shooter! Career 42.3% from three in 1+ seasons.

Kameron Chatman (6-8, 215) -- Showed a willingness to take threes last season, but hit only 26.3% of them. He's 0-6 this season, so that aspect of his game is still lacking. Anything he gives them scoring-wise will be gravy. Solid rebounder at both ends.

Ricky Doyle (6-9, 250) -- Proven capable in the paint, but will defer to everybody else around him. Good offensive rebounder.

The Michigan bench and defense

Reserves: Spike Albrecht (5-11, 175), Zak Irvin (6-6, 215), Duncan Robinson (6-8, 210), D.J. Wilson (6-10, 240), Moritz Wagner (6-10, 225), Mark Donnal (6-9, 225), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (6-4, 185). Here it is, the bench entanglement. Who will play when and how much! Who will shoot when and how much! Who will rebound when okay I'm stopping.

Albrecht is not at 100% after having surgery on his hip during the offseason, and has played sparingly as a result. It's possible he doesn't play against NC State at all. When healthy, he can be a major-difference maker. The Wolverines will just have to he gets there before the meat of the Big Ten schedule hits.

Irvin and Robinson have been playing starters' minutes, such as they are with this group (so, like 20-25 MPG), and while Robinson has come off the bench exclusively, Irvin has made four starts. Robinson's shot have been almost exclusively from outside, which I suppose is fine since he's 15-25 from three.

Irvin is getting back into the flow after a back injury, and so far he's struggling to make threes. But he is one of the most prolific three-point shooters in Michigan history and for his career is shooting nearly 37% from outside.

Figure Irvin and Robinson, along with LeVert, Walton, and Dawkins, will be the major point producers. As for everybody else ... who knows?

Michigan Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 50.9 (247) 19.4 (145) 31.2 (175) 26.7 (9)
2015-16 49.3 (171) 17.4 (224)
30.4 (178) 33.8 (108)

Beilein will run some zone concepts, though he probably doesn't play zone as often with Michigan as he did in his West Virginia days. In any case, he has a long track record of mediocre-to-worse defenses, and that is one potential drawback to constructing a perimeter-oriented roster. It's great to have bigs who can shoot (and make free throws!), but those types of players can struggle defensively against more traditional post players. (This was a problem for NC State during the Herb Sendek Princeton offense years. The trade-off was worth it, but still.)

The Wolverines tend not to be disruptive, whether we're talking about blocks or steals, and in each of the last two seasons, opponents have shot better than 50% inside the arc. That's a rough combination, even if they have mastered the art of defense without fouling (though that strength is taking a hit with the rules changes) and do a decent job on the glass.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes State by one point, with both teams easily clear of a point per possession. Let's hope the Pack brings their shootin' shoes. (And/or their scorin' shoes.)