GameNight: UCLA vs Michigan

November 20th, 2008
Nov 20 2008 - 9:00pm


Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad

Aside from being on primetime television, this game has a lot to offer. UCLA (2-0) is the heavy favorite, but this Michigan (2-0) team is much better than last year. The Bruins may be susceptible to an upset after that close call against Miami of Ohio. They bring a lineup dotted with freshmen to the table. Will inexperience play a factor in the young Bruins' first real test?

UCLA features one of the best point guards in the nation in Darren Collison. Collison was the steady hand that guided the Bruins to victory against Miami, and UCLA will need him against a tougher opponent. He has only taken 3 shots beyond the arc this season, but look for that to change against the Wolverines. Wingman Josh Shipp, on the other hand, has launched 10 3 balls, converting only 2 of them. He has been a very good rebounder, though, and continues to find many ways to score. Alfred Aboya provides defense & toughness, and that's about it. He is only averaging 5 points a game, but his inside presence is game-changing. He's not dominant, but he gets the job done. Tournament sensation James Keefe has been largely disappointing this season, as I was expecting big things from him. He's shooting less than 35% from the field and has scored only 10 points in two games. He will need to have a bigger impact against Michigan. Michael Roll is a very good contributor off the bench. A consistent 3-point shooter, Roll be asked to knock down a few Thursday night. On to the freshman. Jrue Holliday leads the bunch with 8 points a game, but the MVP of UCLA's freshman has been Malcolm Lee. He has 7 points a game to go along with 4 rebounds and 1.5 assists. A solid start to the season for Lee. J'Mison Morgan and Drew Gooden have also contributed off the bench.

The Wolverines have looked sharp through their first two games. Manny Harris might be the best player in the Big Ten this year. He is averaging 28 points a game, not to mention 8.5 rebounds and 5 assists. A key to this game may be how well Josh Shipp can contain Harris, as no one has been able to so far. DeShawn Sims mans the paint for Michigan. While not tremendously big, Sims moves well in the paint and uses his body effectively. He already has a double double this year. The rest of the Wolverines roster is chock-full of role players who know their job. Zack Gibson does a little bit of everything for Michigan. David Merritt should be a much more integral part of the offense this year after only taking 26 shots all of last season.

This Michigan squad will not go away easily. The key for them will be to contain Collison. He has been the only Bruin so far that has played consistently well for long stretches. If the Wolverines contain him, they have a chance at a major upset. Make the freshmen step up and prove that they can carry their squad to victory. On the opposing side, if Josh Shipp can hold Manny Harris to near 15 points and the tandem of Aboya and Keefe contain DeShawn Sims in the post, UCLA could win big.

My Pick: UCLA Margin:  5-10