Arizona Basketball

Michigan Wolverines vs. Arizona Wildcats: Three top storylines


Michigan vs. Arizona Flashback: Khalid Reeves scores career-high 40 points in rout over Michigan at McKale in 1993


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Top three storylines for today’s game:

1. Arizona is 7-2 against Michigan but the Wildcats have other triumphs.

The series record indicates that on paper. Away from the court, Arizona has plenty of victories in relation to the Michigan athletic department.

Bob Elliott, the best post player in Arizona basketball history, came from Ann Arbor. He followed Fred Snowden from there. Snowden, the first African-American head coach at the Division I level, was an assistant at Michigan when Dave Strack hired him to lead the Arizona program in 1972.

Bob Elliott is the only Arizona player to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career

Bob Elliott is the only Arizona player to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career

Thanks to the late Strack, a legendary former Michigan coach who became Arizona’s athletic director earlier in 1972, Snowden came to Tucson and introduced the city to an exciting brand of basketball that put the Wildcats on the map nationally.

Snowden also recruited one of Arizona’s best backcourts — Eric Money and Coniel Norman — from Detroit upon his hire in Tucson. If Snowden did not leave Michigan, Money and Norman would have become Wolverines.

Strack also hired Jim Young, an assistant at Michigan, to be the head coach of the Wildcats’ football program. Young made Arizona competitive enough in his four years (31-13) to make the program believe it can make the jump from the WAC to what was then the Pac-10 in 1978.

Fred Snowden's high-scoring style of basketball drew sellout crowds at McKale Center immediately after transitioning from Bear Down Gym ( photo)

Fred Snowden’s high-scoring style of basketball drew sellout crowds at McKale Center immediately after transitioning from Bear Down Gym ( photo)

Another former Michigan assistant, Larry Smith, proved the Wildcats can compete in the Pac-10 after his hire in 1980 with “The Streak” against ASU and other notable wins against USC, UCLA and Notre Dame.

Lastly, Rich Rodriguez was forced out at Michigan after only three seasons paving the possibility of Arizona hiring him after Mike Stoops was let go in 2011. The timing was right and Rodriguez became the figurehead of Arizona’s resurgence in football. The Wildcats are playing in a College Football Playoff Top 6 bowl — the Fiesta Bowl — in only Rodriguez’s third season.

2. Michigan may be down now but watch out.

Sean Miller was correct in his assessment of Michigan this week when he said the Wolverines are “going to hit their stride this year and be a really good team.”


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Tip Time: 3:25 p.m. MST
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman/Jay Bilas)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Overall: Arizona leads, 7-2
In Tucson: Series tied, 1-1
Current Streak: Arizona won 2
Last Meeting: Arizona won, 72-70, on Dec. 14, 2013
Sean Miller vs. Michigan: 1-0


Perfect gift for any Arizona or college hoops fan this holiday season: A complete rundown of the Arizona basketball program as we might not know it put together by longtime Tucson sportswriters Steve Rivera and Anthony Gimino. Please e-mail Rivera, Gimino or for ordering details.

CLICK HERE to read Javier Morales’ review


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Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents. Arizona is No. 10 with a strength of schedule rating of No. 90. Michigan has an RPI of No. 113.
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Michigan coach John Beilein is good enough to turn around a 6-3 start following an embarrassing loss to New Jersey Institute of Technology at home. The Wolverines are also coming off a loss against a mid-major — Eastern Michigan — but that is not all that bad. The Eagles are 5-1 and have an RPI rating of No. 54. Their only loss was against Archie Miller’s Dayton team on the road.

Beilein has a history of decent finishes in his eight seasons in Ann Arbor.

After losing to Arizona last year at home, the Wolverines responded with 11 consecutive wins and later advanced to the Elite Eight. In the year before that, Michigan went on a magical five-game winning streak that landed the Wolverines in the national title game. They had nine regular-season losses before that run.

It’s to Arizona’s benefit, in terms of its RPI, to get the victory over Michigan today and then watch the young Wolverines as they progress throughout the season.

Michigan has only one senior — reserve forward Max Biefeldt. It’s three top players are junior guard Caris LeVert and sophomore guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin. That trio has combined for 62.1 percent of Michigan’s scoring.

Walton, LeVert and Irvin are also responsble for:
— 40.5 percent of Michigan’s rebounds (117 of 289).
— 56.3 percent of its assists (67 of 119).
— 63.2 percent of its steals (36 of 57).
— 59.2 percent of its free-throw attempts (90 of 152).

They average more than 35.0 minutes per game.

With that nucleus, Beilein has something to build on by the end of this season.

3. Is that a misprint? Arizona has allowed only one dunk in nine games?

That’s what it says in the Arizona press release for today’s game and it’s believable with the Wildcats’ inside presence with Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley and the athleticism of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson around the basket.

Arizona, which has 32 dunks (led by Hollis-Jefferson’s 17), is not an imposing shot-block team, ranking No. 130 nationally with 3.9 blocked shots a game. Their interior strength can be intimidating, relegating teams to try shots other than planned in the paint.

Michigan’s players were polled by before the season about who is the Wolverines’ best dunker with Glenn Robinson III off to the NBA. Freshman guard Aubrey Dawkins, son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, was the winner.

The younger Dawkins, who decided not to play for his dad despite his Palo Alto, Calif., upbringing, has tried only nine field goals. Chances are, even if he’s tried 90, he would not get a good enough look for a dunk today.


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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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