THE ESSENTIAL THINGS
|WHAT||#2 Michigan (2-0)
vs #35 Seton Hall (2-0)
Ann Arbor MI
|WHEN||9:00 pm Easter
|THE LINE||Kenpom: M -11
Torvik: M -7
Michigan draws longtime foe Seton Hall in this year’s Gavitt Games. After a long run-up – credit to the AD here for his patience – The Hall has always been good under Kevin Willard, but never great. For a record 14-13 last year, he would have taken the Pirates to four consecutive tournaments, that would have been five had the 2020 tournament taken place, but he has only been out of the first round once and has not made it to Sweet 16 . Seton Hall did share a Big East title in 2020, and Kenpom thought they would be a three-seed.
Last year the team stumbled to a match of over .500, but the good news is that the Hall gives back most of their contributors and is an experienced team. The bad news is that star C Sandro Mamulkeashvili has left and there is no clear candidate to perform.
That hasn’t slowed Seton Hall down so far; their first two games were a 44- and 36-point loss, the second against a Yale program that is consistently one of the best in the Ivy League. Feeling good about themselves, the Pirates are on the hunt for a signature road win.
THE UNITED STATES
Seth’s picture [click to embiggen]:
faq for these images
Frankie Collins played the first two games after missing the exhibition. Zeb Jackson is still MIA.
THE LINEUP MAP
Seth’s picture [click for big]:
Rhoden missed the first game and came off the bench for about 20 minutes in game #2; we project that he starts and pushes Kadary Richmond to the couch.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Cale is a sweet shooting wing [shupirates.com]
It’s hard to say what the Seton Hall rotation will look like against opponents who don’t get blown away before 40, but one thing it will be: big. The Hall has four guys who are more or less post players, and two have been on the floor all 80 minutes so far. Both C and PF spots are split approximately in the middle; we project one of those situations to continue and one to resolve in a starter and backup.
In the middle, FSU transfer Ike Obiagu and Canadian Tyrese Samuel vie for minutes and are likely to continue to divide tasks. You may remember Obiagu’s memorable cameo appearance in Michigan’s Elite Eight game against FSU in 2018. The 7’2″ Obiagu’s seven minutes contains three blocks, two errors and no other stats. Yeah, that guy. Archetype: Mr. Jumpy Guy Strengths: Blocking shots, dunking Weaknesses: Everything else Obiagu’s freshman block rate of 21 would have led the country by a full six points had he gotten 16 MPG instead of ten.
Obiagu transferred to Seton Hall the following year, sat outside, then had a limited role in 2020. Last year, he broke into the COVID season, played a hair over 20 MPG, finished 4th in the country in block rate ( 13.9) and hitting 70% off the floor. Unfortunately for Seton Hall, that efficiency was only 8% of the Pirate shots – he hasn’t developed at all from the freshman FSU version. He gets putbacks and dunks set up by his teammates and has no back-to-the-basket game. His DREB rate is also very low for a monster post as he tries to block everything.
Samuel is more polished on the block and generates about half of his buckets on the rim unassisted. He also has a narrow range of three points; he gets 32% on 93 career attempts. But he’s nowhere near the rim guard that Obiagu is (2.1 block rate last year) and was atrocious on free throws (43% career); he’s 9 7/9 this year, but it seems rather far-fetched that it will stay that way.
He was a 210-tied beanstalk as a recruit and while he’s bulking up some he’ll hand over a ton of size to Hunter Dickinson if and when the two get together.
With PF USF transfer Alexis Yetna seems to have the lead. Yetna was a starter for the Bulls as a freshman, missed all of 2019 and returned last year starting all but six games for which he was injured. He shot 58/29 from the floor with about half his shots from distance, but he was much better from deep as a freshman (37%) and has started 4/7 this year. Yetna was also a dominant rebounder with double-digit OREB and 20+ DREB percentages in his two years, which was when he played alongside a pair of seven-footers.
Yetna does have some back-to-the-basket games, at least at the AAC level, but about 2/3 of its edge brands were either please-dunk-this-for-me assists or putbacks. He’s more dangerous as a man who finishes plays than starts them.
In the backcourt, Seton Hall returns two starters from last year’s squad. 6’6 wing Jared Rhoden was Sandro Mamukelashvil’s second banana last year, hitting 51/30/83 from the floor and clearing the defensive glass. This year, he projects as the best option. He is a capable three-level goalscorer who doesn’t excel at a certain distance, but is solid throughout. He also got on the phone a lot and avoided turnover very well for a man who often goes to the brink.
Rhoden is only average as a spot-up guy; he is most dangerous in the transition where he is by far Seton Hall’s best return option. He will be a challenge to anyone who puts Michigan on him, especially if it’s Caleb Houston.
super-senior Myles Cale is another 6’6″ wing/SG type, a significantly more dangerous shooter than Rhoden, but a man who will absorb shots and not make them. He has been shaky throughout his career, shooting 28%, 38% , 28% and 37% from three in the last four years If he’s due for another down season, it hasn’t shown at his start, he’s 3/6 from deep in the start.
When Cale ventures inside the line, he attacks a close-out and usually goes to the edge. 80% of his shots inside the line are on the rim and his conversion rate there is poor (55%). This didn’t translate into many free trade agreements a year ago for whatever reason. Cale has traditionally been a guy with an assist speed that is almost nonexistent, so when that dude puts his head down, he goes up with it and the help of a weakling can come after it.
Finally, point guard Jamir Harriso transferred from the AMERICAN EAGLES of the Patriot League, which is not something I just made up. As an AMERICAN EAGLE guy, he was a sniper first before evolving into a pointy substance as a junior. He hits 40% of the depth for his career and has gone from 35 to 40 to 44 percent in the last three years with reasonable volume. Harris has significant pull-up play and will be an early test for Michigan’s hedging.
The rest of Harris’s game is an open question against a higher level comp. He played one career game against a Kenpom top 100 foe, the 2019 Georgetown squad that finished 38th. You would expect a low-major uptransfer to see his use wane and move more towards the three-point line; early returns indicate that this is the case. Crowd him and see if he can do anything other than snipe, which he certainly can.
- Whichever of the two C’s you want to designate as backup.
- Mizzou transfer Tray Jackson is the primary backup on the 4. A native of Detroit, Jackson was a top 100 recruit in the class of 2019 but got about 6 MPG for Mizzou as a freshman and was buried on the couch in Seton Hall last year. He has almost no statistics to refer to. He believes he can shoot threes, but so far he can’t.
- Harvard transfer Bryce Aiken backup on point. He is another man who has neither the recruiting profile nor many recent meaningful stats to go on. This is mainly because he is constantly injured. He has missed at least half of the last four seasons. If you want to go way back and add it up, he’s a 46/35/86 shooter with turnover issues who struggled considerably (37/27 shooting) after rising to the Big East level last year.
- Syracuse transfer Kadary Richmond is the other available backcourt. Richmond played Syracuse’s half-minutes last year; Richmond hit 48/33/72 from the floor with a PG-esque assist rate but way too many turnovers.
Last year’s four factors:
Except for those free throws and some weakness on the defense glass, these stats are so average they should be beige. Obiagu helped them to a block rate and two points D just outside the top 50; their biggest weakness on D was that they lit up on a relatively small number of threes, which could be bad luck or Seton Hall’s tendency to play super big and give up some agility on the edge.
Mix and match. Obiagu is a pretty good defender, around the 70th percentile per Synergy, but that was at just 34 possession last year, so anything could be true there. What seems likely is that Samuel gets about 20 minutes and Hunter Dickinson can put that guy in a locker. Meanwhile, a hypothetical Diabate/Obiagu defensive matchup doesn’t bother Michigan because Obiagu is strictly a dunk/putback guy. Therefore, getting as many Dickinson minutes against Samuel as possible seems like a winning idea.
stay in front. Seton Hall will have a big advantage when one of their wings takes on Eli Brooks, but neither man is particularly effective at shooting over guys, so you’ll probably be fine. Caleb Houston is another matter; he will probably have an agility deficit, but has more size. Anyway, Seton Hall thinks it will be a bit of a struggle to look good if their two star wings don’t collapse defenses, probably in isolation sets, as neither man was using much PNR a year ago.
hold it in check. Seton Hall has made a concerted effort to go up-tempo this year, with over a quarter of their shots in the first two games being submitted by Synergy as transitions. They are excellent at converting those players, and since their PG is a Patriot League up transfer and they don’t have much playmaking from the wings, the Pirates will probably struggle to generate good looks on the half court.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THAT KENPOM DOES
Michigan against 11.