Obviously the #19 Michigan Wolverines will be the favorites in this game, but Oakland is no slouch. Not only does Oakland have the same record as Michigan, but Oakland has also faced quality competition. Oakland opened their season with 4 road games including #15 Alabama and faced Tennessee at home. Though a few of these opponents weren't exactly "top" competition, Michigan fans certainly are aware of how difficult road games can be after the ACC Challenge. Michigan so far is 0-1 in true road games, so Oakland's 2-2 away record this season with some tough competition has to be respected.
Saturday's game will certainly be competitive, at least for most of the game, but Michigan is certainly the better team. Oakland has some great players such Reggie Hamilton and Corey Petros, but it's going to be tough for them to match-up with Michigan's significant talent and depth. If Michigan has success shutting down these players early, I'd find it hard to see Oakland taking away a win.
Along with this, this match-up is not a true road game for either team. The game will be held at the Palace of Auburn Hills (home of the Pistons) and will feature many of the maize and blue faithful in the stands. However, I think this will be a big turnaround for the Oakland fans. Facing an in-state ranked team like Michigan is sure to get Oakland fans and students excited. Plus, the Palace is within driving distance so there should be a fair amount there, even though Michigan fans travel well. There are still tickets left and you can get them here. If you're watching on TV, the game will be on FSN Detroit @ 4pm
Oakland seems to have an offensive advantage, but how well they will score against a stingent Wolverines defense remains to be seen. Oakland is averaging 80.1 points per game and has 5 players averaging more than 10 points per game including Reggie Hamilton who averages 19.8 points per game.
I still think Hardaway is the best single offensive player on the court, but for Michigan to win, they are going to need to slow down this high-scoring team. Michigan averages 67.9 points per game and only has 2 players averaging more than 10 points per game including Hardaway at 15.9 points per game.
Clearly, this is the area where Michigan has a major advantage. Oakland may be averaging 80.1 points in every game, but they are giving up 75.5 points per game. On the contrary, Michigan is averaging 67.9 ppg, but holds their opponents to 59.6 ppg. Obviously, Michigan's +8.28 is better than Oakland's +4.6 advantage.
This is the biggest spot for Michigan really to pull away in this game. If they can slow down Oakland and hold them well below their average points, I find it hard to see Michigan losing this one. Michigan needs to score to win the game, but if they can make this a defensive game, there's no reason to see a loss.
- Michigan is able to slow down the Oakland offense and Reggie Hamilton
- One surprise player for Michigan will have a big game, I'm predicting Stu Douglass
- Tim Hardaway, Jr. will come out hot and put up 20 points
- One of Oakland's starters will be in major foul trouble the entire game
Photo Credit: Angela J. Cesere