It will be a meeting of top 4 teams at the KFC! Yum Center on Tuesday as Michigan comes to town for a matchup with Louisville. The undefeated and now number one ranked Cardinals host the Wolverines as part of the 2019 ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Louisville is 3-2 in the challenge since joining the ACC in 2014. The Cards defeated 9th ranked Michigan State at home last season in overtime. This is only the eighth top-5 matchup in the history of the challenge. Louisville is 3-1 all time versus Michigan. All four games have been decided by six or fewer points.
While Louisville just earned its 3rd ever number one ranking in the AP poll this week, Michigan made a historic jump in the rankings. After defeating two top ten teams last weekend on its way to the Battle 4 Atlantis title, Michigan went from unranked to 4th in one week. According to the AP, that’s tied for the biggest week-to-week jump in the 70 year history of the poll.
Michigan utterly dominated both North Carolina and Gonzaga last weekend. The Wolverines are 7-0 under first year coach Juwan Howard and own a total of four top-60 wins less than one month into the season.
Isaiah Livers has been one of the most improved players in all of college basketball this season. He leads Michigan with 17.0 points per game after only averaging 7.9 a season ago. Jon Teske has been impressive as well, averaging 13.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The 7-1 Center is shooting 31.3 percent from three on over two attempts per game. Zavier Simpson, one of the nation’s best returning point guards, is off to another great start with 12.3 points, 9.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds.
Michigan’s hot start has been in large part to its shooting, but they’ve also been impressive on the other end. The Wolverines are second in the nation with an effective field goal percentage of 61.4. They are the 9th best team from three point range at 42.4 percent. Teske leads a front-court that is getting over five blocks a game and is holding opponents to 44.1 percent on two point attempts. Zavier Simpson is in the conversation for best on-ball defender in the entire country.
By now you know about Louisville. Jordan Nwora scored 25 against WKU and is now up to 21.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Louisville has three other double figure scorers and is also one of the best shooting teams out there. That has been against some inferior competition. On Tuesday the Cards have an opportunity to prove it on the national stage.
Heading into the season, most people were probably not anticipating that this matchup would be so high profile. Michigan lost 3 starters off of last season’s team. Coach John Belein left unexpectedly in the summer and the program was expected to take a step back, at least initially. Here we are, though. Louisville is ranked number one and faces a fellow top 5 opponent at home.
The game tips at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be televised on ESPN. Louisville is currently favored by 5.5 points.
Prediction: Louisville 76 Michigan 71
Also, I’ll just leave this here.