Michigan Wolverines Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Preview
The Michigan Wolverines are headed to Paradise Island, Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. U-M will take on Iowa State in the opening game of the three-day tournament at Imperial Arena on Wednesday (12 PM ET, ESPN).
U-M has started the season winning four consecutive games at home before heading south over Thanksgiving for the team's first trip away from the friendly confines of Crisler Center.
"To a man, I'll be looking for our team to be a competitive group,” head coach Juwan Howard said after the 111-68 win over Houston Baptist last Friday. “It’s beautiful when you go on the road, because it helps your team form a mental toughness and a togetherness.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for us to bond and get to know one another. Yes, our goal is to take it one game at a time, and we know every opponent we’re going to face is good, just like the ones we’ve seen here at home.
“It will prepare us for the Big Ten season, which is right around the corner. It will be a business trip though, and it’s that simple.
“The Bahamas are a beautiful vacation spot for many, but we’re approaching it like we’re taking care of business, and taking it one game at a time.
“We can’t be hanging out at the beach and enjoying the fun in the sun. We’ll have practice once we get there and start locking in for our opponent.
“We’re going to start preparing for Iowa State on Sunday.”
Despite the undefeated 4-0 start to the season, the Wolverines are not nationally ranked as a top-25 team. They're looking at the upcoming tournament as an opportunity to prove themselves to outside eyes that they can hang with anybody.
"We’re big time underrated," junior forward Isaiah Livers said. "But, we got a chance to let the world know in the Bahamas. That’s just the way the game goes. You have to earn people’s respect. If you’re good, you go show them that you’re good.
"No disrespect to Houston Baptist or Elon, they’re great competitors, but they’re not nationally ranked. So, going against UNC, Alabama, Iowa State, they’re going to come out with confidence and to show people just like we are."
It's not just the high level of opponents U-M will face, but the fact that it will play three games in three days will pose a challenge.
"We prepare for it," Castleton said. "It’s just something you got to be used to. All the other teams do it, just like us so you just have to be ready. It’s what you prepare for in practice every day, so you just got to go out and do it."
A Look at the Iowa State Cyclones:
U-M and Iowa State will square off in the first round at 12 PM ET today on ESPN in the tournament's opening game. Iowa State ranks No. 42 in Kenpom ratings.
This will be the second high-major team U-M will face this season. The Wolverines defeated Creighton, out of the Big East, 79-69 back on Nov. 12. Wednesday's matchup will be a Big Ten / Big 12 battle. U-M last played Iowa State back on Nov. 17, 2013, and lost to the Cyclones 77-70 at Iowa State.
Head coach Steve Prohm is in his fifth season as the head coach and has brought the Cyclones to the NCAA tournament in three of his first four seasons. Last year, Iowa State lost in the first round to Ohio State and posted a 23-12 record on the season.
The Cyclones are 3-1 with home wins over Northern Illinois (70-52), Mississippi Valley State (110-74) and Southern Miss (73-45), and a road loss to Oregon State (80--74). Iowa State is averaging 81.8 points per game and is holding its opponents to 62.8. The Cyclones are shooting 46.4 percent from the field and just 27.2 percent from three.
The leading scorer for Iowa State is sophomore guard Rasir Bolton (6-3, 183 pounds) at 12.5 points per game. Bolton transferred from Penn State, where he averaged 11.6 points per game as a freshman. He scored 6 points last season in Penn State's first meeting with U-M in Ann Arbor and 13 in the second meeting in Happy Valley.
Bolton is one of four Cyclones that averages scoring in double-digits. Redshirt junior forward Solomon Young (6-8, 242 pounds) is averaging 12 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton (6-5, 175 pounds) is averaging 10.8 points and 10.3 assists per game. Haliburton is responsible for 40.7 percent of Iowa State's scoring. Sophomore forward George Conditt (6-10, 223 pounds) is adding 10.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4 blocks per game.
Iowa State leads the nation with a 2.11 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Cyclones average 20 assists per game which is good enough for sixth in the country.
A Look At The Alabama Crimson Tide:
U-M's second game will be against either Alabama or North Carolina. If U-M wins, it will play at 1:30 PM ET on Thursday and would play at 6:30 PM with a loss.
The Crimson Tide rank at No. 78 in Kenpom. Alabama is 2-2 on the season with a win over Florida Atlantic (78-59) at home, a loss to Penn State (81-80) at home, a road loss to Rhode Island (93-79) and a win at home over Furman (81-73).
First-year head coach Nate Oats came from Buffalo, where he took the Bulls to three NCAA tournaments in four seasons, including round of 32 appearances in each of the last two years.
Alabama is scoring 79.5 points per game and allowing its opponents to score 76.5. The Crimson Tide shoot 43.7 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Four players average double figures in scoring. Sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. (6-3, 165 pounds) averages 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5 assists per contest. Freshman guard Jaden Shackelford (6-3, 195 pounds) averages 15.8 points per game. Redshirt freshman forward Javian Davis (6-9, 242 pounds) adds 15.8 points per game. Junior guard/forward Herbert Jones (6-7, 205 pounds) scores 10 points per game.
A Look At The North Carolina Tar Heels:
North Carolina is ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, No. 4 in the Coaches poll and checks in at No. 9 in Kenpom ratings. The Tar Heels are off to an undefeated 4-0 start, having defeated Notre Dame (76-65), UNC Wilmington (78-62), Gardner-Webb (77-61) and Elon (75-61).
The Tar Heels are scoring 76.5 points per game and holding their opponents to 62.3. They have held their opponents to 65 points or fewer in each game thus far. They are shooting 46.2 percent and only allowing opponents to shoot 34.6 percent from the floor. North Carolina is shooting 32.9 percent from three. They are grabbing 19.5 more rebounds than their opponent per game, on average. That rebounding margin leads the nation.
U-M has played North Carolina in each of the last two seasons. The Tar Heels won 86-71 in Chapel Hill in November of 2017. U-M returned the favor, winning in blowout fashion, 84-67, last season in Ann Arbor. North Carolina, like U-M, advanced to the Sweet 16 last year.
Three players average double figures in scoring for North Carolina. Freshman guard Cole Anthony (6-3, 190 pounds) is on the watch lists for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, awarded to the nation's top player. He is ninth in the country in scoring, averaging a team-high 22.8 points per game. Anthony also averages 8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per contest. Junior forward Garrison Brooks (6-9, 235 pounds) puts up 12 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Armando Bacot scores 10.3 points and grabs 8.5 rebounds per game. William and Mary grad transfer (and former U-M target) Justin Pierce averages 9.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
A Look At Possible Third Game Opponents
Possible opponents for the third game are: Gonzaga, Seton Hall, Southern Miss or Oregon.
A brief look at each team:
• Gonzaga will take on Southern Miss today at 7 PM ET and will face either Seton Hall or Oregon on Thursday.
• Gonzaga is ranked No. 8 in the AP, No. 7 in the Coaches poll and checks in at No. 5 in Kenpom ratings. The Bulldogs are 6-0 on the season with wins over UT Arlington (72-66), North Dakota (97-66), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (110-60), Alabama State (95-64) and Cal State Bakersfield (77-49) at home and a win at Texas A&M (79-49).
• Gonzaga averages scoring 88.3 points per game and holding its opponents to 59.0 points. The Bulldogs are shooting 51.9 percent from the floor (12th nationally, tied with Oregon) and 37.4 percent from three.
• The top player for Gonzaga is senior forward Killian Tillie (6-10, 220 pounds). Tillie is on the watch list for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy. He averages 14 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
• Southern Miss takes on Gonzaga today at 7 PM ET and will play either Seton Hall or Oregon on Thursday.
• Southern Miss is slotted at No. 226 in the Kenpom ratings. The Golden Eagles are 2-3 this season with a 90-71 win over Delta State before losing to South Alabama (75-69), North Florida (66-63) and Iowa State (73- 45). They rebounded and beat William Carey, 83-64, on Sunday for their second win of the season.
• The Golden Eagles average scoring 70.0 points per game and giving up 69.8 points. They shoot 46.1 percent from the floor and 24.1 percent from three.
• Fifth-year senior forward Boban Jacdonmi (6-9, 256 pounds) leads the way with 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for the Golden Eagles.
• Seton Hall plays Oregon today at 9:30 PM ET and will take on either Gonzaga or Southern Miss on Thursday.
• Seton Hall is ranked No. 13 in both the AP and the Coaches polls and checks in at No. 19 in Kenpom rankings. The Pirates are 4-1 so far with wins win over Wagner (105-71), Stony Brook (74-57), Saint Louis (83-66) and Florida A&M (87-51). The lone loss comes to Michigan State, 76-73, at home.
• Seton Hall averages 84.4 points per game and holds its opponents to 64.2 points per contest. The Pirates shoot 46.5 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc.
• Senior guard Myles Powell (6-2, 195 pounds) leads the Pirates with 22.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
• Oregon will play Seton Hall at 9:30 PM ET today and will face either Gonzaga or Southern Miss on Thursday.
• The Ducks are ranked No. 11 in the AP and No. 10 in the Coaches poll and rank No. 17 in Kenpom. Oregon is an undefeated 5-0 with wins over Fresno State (71-57), Boise State (106-75), Memphis (82-74), UT Arlington (67-47) and Houston (78-66).
• Oregon averages scoring 80.8 points and only giving up 63.8 points per game. They shoot 51.9 percent from the field (12th nationally, tied with Gonzaga) and shoot 42.7 percent from three-point range. The Ducks rank fourth nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense at 20.5 percent.
• Senior guard Payton Pritchard (6-2, 190 pounds) is the leading scorer at 19.4 points per game. He also puts up 5.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Fifth-year senior guard Anthony Mathis (6-4, 185 pounds) averages 15 points per game.
Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Bracket
Michigan Wolverines Game Time / TV Scenarios
Wednesday, Nov. 27
Michigan vs. Iowa State, Noon (ESPN)
Thursday, Nov. 28th
• With a win: vs. Alabama/North Carolina winner, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2)
• With a loss: vs. Alabama/North Carolina loser, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)
Friday, Nov. 29
• With a win, win: Championship, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)
• With a win, loss: 3rd/4th Place, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN or ESPN2)
• With a loss, win: 5th/6th Place, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)
• With a loss, loss: 7th/8th Place, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPNEWS)
Lower Bracket: Gonzaga vs. Southern Miss & Seton Hall vs. Oregon
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