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Know Thy Enemy: Michigan men's basketball

Fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell of the Rutgers men's basketball team will match up well against Michigan's Jett Howard when both teams play each other in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. – Photo by

The Rutgers men’s basketball team will face off against Michigan in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament today at noon.

"Know thy enemy and know yourself," said the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu. "In a hundred battles, you will never be defeated."

With that idea in mind, let’s take a look at the Wolverines' (17-14, 11-9) current season and what the Scarlet Knights (18-13, 10-10) should expect tomorrow.

Michigan boasts a talented roster that has played inconsistently throughout the season. Like Rutgers, the Wolverines are also on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament primarily due to their poor 3-11 Quad 1 record and a Quad 4 loss they suffered against Central Michigan in December 2022.

Six days ago, Jett Howard returned to Michigan. The four-star freshman guard was sidelined with an injury when the Wolverines previously defeated the Knights on February 23.

Howard is a lethal scorer as he shoots 41.8 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc. His best ability is creating his own shot, which means that fifth-year senior guard Caleb McConnell might match up with him defensively. Despite Howard’s talent on the offensive end, the Wolverines are 4-11 against high-major opponents when Howard takes double-digit shot attempts in a game.

With this statistic in mind, Rutgers may want to allow Howard to have the ball in his hands instead of standout center Hunter Dickinson. Dickinson leads the team averaging 18.2 points per game and nine rebounds per game, and he has scored the third most points in the Big Ten.

Dickinson also leads Michigan with a 119.2 offensive rating, and the Wolverines are strongest when he is operating in the post. Dickinson can also stretch a defense, shooting 42.3 percent from three-point range.

Michigan leads the Big Ten with 27.8 defensive rebounds per game but also allows its opponents to get 35.8 rebounds per game which is the second-highest mark in the Big Ten.

The Wolverines are a pretty balanced team as they are both in the top 60 for adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency.

While Michigan does not create a lot of turnovers from its opponents, its takes care of the ball, only turning it over 10.1 times on average per game.

Dug McDaniel can be an x-factor for the Wolverines. McDaniel is quick on and off the ball and can be a strong creator for Michigan’s offense, as he currently leads the Wolverines with 108 assists on the season. McDaniel's confident drive to the basket and mid-range shot success gives Michigan's opponents new challenges.

Despite the Wolverines' talent, they have been prone to lapsing into isolation offense at times and losing concentration both on the defensive end and on the glass. 

Michigan has a 15-1 record against Rutgers all-time.

The Big Ten Tournament is taking place at the United Center in Chicago. The Knights are the No. 9 seed and the Wolverines are the No. 8 seed in the tournament. Tip-off will be at noon, and the game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

For more updates on the Rutgers basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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