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December 21, 2013
What To Watch For: U-M vs. Stanford
The Wolverines take on Stanford Saturday night in Brooklyn, N.Y. Here are the keys to the game:
1. Will McGary Play?
Looking back on Michigan's 72-70 loss to Arizona last week, it should have been easy to predict that sophomore forward Mitch McGary was hobbled by something.
He finished that game with an uncharacteristic eight points and just four rebounds. McGary also coughed up two turnovers, while playing just 22 minutes. His usually sound defense was lacking in the paint, too.
McGary, who missed a large chunk of the summer and preseason workouts and the first two games of the season while dealing with a sore back, is now "injured in my places than I care to mention," according to Michigan coach John Beilein, who spoke to the media Friday afternoon before the team boarded a plane to Brooklyn.
"We tried to put a week in of no contact, no jumping, no bounce, just cardio," Beilein said. "Then put him into action.
"We'll practice him today. I mean, he's not at nearly 100 percent. It's not even close. There were several rebounds in that [Arizona] game where that wasn't Mitch McGary going for the rebound. That was somebody that is hurting.
"We're going to try to get him healthy. We did a great job of getting him in better shape. When you're hurt, you can't burn calories. You can't get your cardio. We've got his cardio in better position, but it's still getting him healthy."
Beilein concluded by saying that if he did not practiced well Friday or is still looking hobbled, he would not play against Stanford Saturday night.
Will McGary play? If the coaches have any doubt about him, the answer should be no.
The Wolverines need to rack up some impressive wins. At 6-4, they have already dropped opportunities to build to a tournament resume, with losses to Iowa State, Duke and Arizona.
But having a healthy McGary for Big Ten season is much more important than getting a win over Stanford on a neutral court.
If he's not quite ready, don't risk anything.
The Cardinal run a base-zone defense that will leave the Wolverines plenty of chances at open looks from downtown.
On the season, Stanford's opponents are hitting 35.1 percent of their three-point shots.
But the Wolverines have to prove they can shoot away from Crisler Arena.
Here's a quick breakdown of how Michigan has shot from behind the arc in road and neutral-site games this year.
At home, the Wolverines are shooting 54-of-118 from three-point range (45.8 percent).
Michigan will have to shoot well Saturday night, because there will be open looks against the Stanford zone.
"I think we do a good job of running our sets against zones," sophomore Nik Stauskas said. "We have a lot of different movements out there to get the ball in the middle of the court, and then kickouts for open threes. Any time we can get open threes, we like that."
With McGary hobbled, the Wolverines did not rebound very well against Arizona last weekend.
Stanford is going to provide another tough test on the glass. The Cardinal grabbed 43 rebounds in a huge 53-51 upset of Connecticut this week.
On the season, Stanford is outrebounding opponents 37.8-33.7.
The Wolverines will need to crash the glass - with or without McGary - to walk away from Brooklyn with a victory.