Sean Harrington: How to beat Michigan

Sean Harrington: How to beat Michigan

Each Friday through the basketball season, former Illini and current BTN analyst Sean Harrington will break down the Big Ten — and provide a scouting report on a critical weekend game (note: Sean will work Sunday in the BTN studio, including halftime analysis of the Iowa-Purdue and Michigan-Illinois games)

Power rankings

Michigan (18-1, 5-1)
■ The Wolverines need a win  at Illinois on Sunday to be the new No.  1 on Monday.

Indiana (17-2, 5-1)
■ The Hoosiers got two wins this week to set up a big home game against Michigan State on Sunday.

Michigan State
(17-3, 6-1)
■ The Spartans find themselves at the top of the conference again with a date at Indiana on Sunday.  

Ohio State (14-4, 4-2)
■ The Buckeyes have been great at home but still need that signature road win in the conference.  

Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2)
■ The Badgers dropped two in a row after an impressive win at Indiana and now face seven tough games in a row.  

Minnesota (15-4, 3-3)
■ The Gophers have dropped three in a row after starting 3-0 in the conference.  

Iowa (13-6, 2-4)
■ The Hawkeyes are getting ready to make a run, with nine of their last 12 games against unranked teams.  

(12-8, 3-4)
■ The Wildcats have played three good games in a row, including wins against Illinois and Minnesota.

Illinois (15-5, 2-4)
■ The Illini got a much- needed road win at Nebraska. A tough five-game stretch starts Sunday when the Illini host Michigan.

Purdue (10-9, 3-3)
■ The young Boilermakers had won three in a row before falling at Michigan on Thursday.

Nebraska (10-10, 1-6)
■ The Cornhuskers got their first conference win before falling at home to Illinois.
Penn State (8-11, 0-7)
■ The Nittany Lions continue to search for that first conference win.  

Player of the Week: Keith Appling, Michigan State

Appling scored 15 points against Ohio State and 19 at Wisconsin to get Michigan State two huge wins. The Spartans will need another big performance from the point guard Sunday when the Spartans visit the Hoosiers.  

Scouting report

Before every game the coaches present players with scouting reports on the opposing team. The reports expose the tendencies of the opposition and highlight effective strategies to win. This is not the real scouting report; it is my own analysis of Illinois’ strategies for defeating Michigan (5 p.m. Sunday, BTN).

Personnel (top seven players)

#3 Trey Burke
Great overall player. Outstanding change of speed. Terrific in the open court. Good crossover move. Can shoot the three on the catch or on the move. Loves to use ball screens. Make him shoot contested shots. Keep him in front of you. Slow him down in transition.  

#10 Tim Hardaway Jr.
Very athletic. Great in transition. Likes to shoot threes in transition. Very good shot fake to dribble jumper move. Can get to the basket. Don’t let him get confident. Find him early in transition. Close out on shot. Be physical with him.  

#11 Nik Stauskas
Great shooter with unlimited range. Very quick release on his shot. Can get to the rim off the dribble. Find him at all times. Give him no open looks. Make him put the ball on the floor. Crowd him on the perimeter.  

#1 Glenn Robinson III
Really athletic. Fantastic in transition. Hits the offensive boards hard. Good spot-up shooter from three. Find him early in transition. Box him out at all times. Close out on his shot but know he wants to drive.

#52 Jordan Morgan
Strong, big-body guy. Likes to score around the rim with the righty hook. Very good offensive rebounder. Contest his shot to 17 feet. Make him score over his right shoulder. Box him out at all times.

#4 Mitch McGary
Great energy. Hits the offensive boards hard. Scores around the rim. Likes to set ball screens and dive to the rim. Must match his energy. Don’t let him be more aggressive. Box him out at all times. Make him score with his left hand at the rim.

#23 Caris LeVert
Good three-point shooter. Can get to the basket off the dribble. Good in transition. Find him in transition. Contest his shots. Pressure him on the perimeter.  

Keys to the Game
✓ Get back in transition     

✓ Make them shoot contested threes

Keys to stopping Michigan
The Wolverines can score a bunch of points in a hurry. They are at their best when they can get out and run in transition. Transition baskets get them energized. Watch for Michigan to set ball screens in transition for Burke. The Wolverines love to throw lobs and shoot threes in transition.
It is extremely important to get back in transition. Protect the rim and then build out to shooters. Slow Burke down by “cupping” him with the guard and a big in transition.  
Michigan loves to make back cuts in the halfcourt. They also like to set pin downs and ball screens. The Wolverines’ offense is a rhythm offense. It is extremely important to disrupt their rhythm. To do that you have to be physical with Michigan. Bump all the cutters to make them change their path. Contain Michigan’s penetration so you don’t have help on the drive and don’t have to make defensive rotations.  
Michigan likes to swing the ball from side to side. Keep the ball on one side of the floor. Force the ball screens to the baseline. Make Michigan run its offense out on the floor. Don’t let the Wolverines catch the ball in the scoring area.  
The Wolverines like to run a lot of their sets through the 5 man at the top of the key. Try to make the big catch the ball farther out on the floor to disrupt rhythm and timing.  

Keys to scoring on Michigan
The Wolverines are mainly a man-to-man team, but they will play some zone from time to time. Michigan will get out and pressure the ball, but it likes to stay packed inside the arc. Look for Michigan to switch 1 through 4 on ball screens. Michigan is solid defensively, but it will get lost on switches at times and will have mismatches when Burke switches onto a 4 man.  
It is very important to have great spacing on the court. Michigan can be taken off the dribble when there are driving lanes created by good spacing. It also will be very important to move the basketball from side to side. Michigan’s defense is very good on the first side of the court, but it will have breakdowns with ball movement.  
Look to attack McGary using ball screens. He will be late on the hedge and sometimes is slow getting back to his man.
Michigan is athletic, but it plays four guards and can be prone to giving up offensive rebounds. Look to hit the glass with the 4 and 5 while the 1-3 get back to stop transition.  


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FloridaIllini wrote on January 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

After reading this, even though I have never bet on a game, I would take Michigan no matter the betting line.  

Railsplitter wrote on January 25, 2013 at 10:01 am

After reading this from Harrington, I'd just go with the Tonya Harding Maneuver.

Mikeydamouth wrote on January 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm

There is no doubt in my mind.......whats left of it........the key to a win here other than playing flawless offense ist to stop Burke. He is averaging over 7 assists a game, stop him any way possible, harass, maim, foul, make him pay so to speak, and we have a chance.

JimOATSfan wrote on January 26, 2013 at 4:01 am

The boys of the hardcourt will probably lose to Michigan.

But if they did win, it would be incredible and they will have earned the win. If they can visualize themselves winning the game, then they can manifest the win.

Personally, I would like to see LaTulip come in the game under duress in the 2nd half and hit everything from everywhere to provide a totally unexpected non-stop scoring burst and spearhead the Illini to a vistory. Afterall, it is a TEAM game. Pass the ball, the assists and the laurel around.


1 illinifan wrote on January 26, 2013 at 11:01 am

@ jimoatesfan  have to say great post. If nothing else let him come in to harrass Burke, use up some of his fouls rather than the starters, if he gets hot then all the better.