2013-14 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Will Face Michigan For Ticket To Dallas For Final Four

The Universities of Kentucky and Michigan have only met 6 times between 1921 and their last encounter in 1993. However, these teams have a rich history between them, both independent of each other and with respect to the circumstances surrounding 3 of their 6 previous games against each other. We all know the UK history of NCAA play, NCAA Disappointments, and NCAA Championships. Michigan claims a NCAA National Championship (1989) and at least 4 additional trips to the Final Four.

Last year, Michigan played in the National Championship game before falling to Louisville, and they are now in a Regional Championship game one year removed playing Kentucky for the ticket to the 2014 Final Four. The Wolverines played in the 1993 Final Four, and defeated Kentucky and Jamal Mashburn to send the Cats home, and sent the Cats home and brought Jamal Mashburn's collegiate career to and end. That 1993 Michigan team was known best as the “Fab Five” which has again surfaced in discussions about the Current UK team with its fabulous five freshmen that will take the court together on Sunday to face Michigan. But, the ironies do not end there.

In 1964, the Wolverines played in the final four, losing in the semifinals to Duke, who then lost to upstart UCLA to give the Bruins their first national championship. In 1965, Michigan returned to the final four, losing to UCLA in the championship game. The Michigan leader on those teams was All American Cazzie Russell. In 1966, Michigan advanced to the Regional Championship game, and the Wolverines and Cazzie Russell's quest for a third straight trip to a Final Four had to pass through Rupp's Runts. In 1966, the Cats ended the Wolverines' season and Cazzie Russell's collegiate career that night in March.

Finally, in November 1968, Adolph Rupp took his Cats to Ann Arbor for the first game ever played in Michigan's new basketball field house. The Cats broke it in by handing the home team a loss in their first game in their new home.

Yes, these teams have only played 6 times in nearly a century, but when these teams have tangled, the stakes have been high for each bench. This Sunday's encounter will be true to form.

These teams have very similar statistical profiles. Michigan advanced to their conference tournament's championship game where they lost to rival #8 Michigan State by 14. Kentucky advanced to the SEC conference championship game before they lost to #1 Florida by 1 points. Michigan is 28-8 against a schedule strength of 0.7285 (4 th ) and Kentucky is 27-10 against a schedule strength of 0.7251 (5 th ). Michigan currently holds the #9 position on Pomeroy, and the Cats hold to #10 at present. Both teams are on the rise in the Pomeroy ratings. Michigan began the tournament at #16, and have risen 7 spots to #9. Kentucky began the tournament in the #17 spot, and have risen 7 spots to #10. As the #2 seed in this region, Michigan coasted by its first and second opponents, #184 Wofford by 17 and #39 Texas by 14. The Cats, with the #8 seed in the region, beat #43 Kansas State by 7 and # 5 Wichita State by 2 to reach the Sweet 16. On Friday night, Michigan was extended to the final horn to get past #7 Tennessee by 2, and the Cats had to fight from behind to get past #3 Louisville by 5 to set up this Elite 8 matchup

Among Michigan's the 28 wins, 9 have come at the expense of teams with Pomeroy ratings of 100 or higher, and 6 of those opponents are rated at #150 or lower. That leave 26 games against teams rated in the top 100, but of those, 20 have been against top 50 opponents with a record of 14-6 in those 20 games. Michigan's can claim wins over #6 Wisconsin, #8 Michigan State twice, with losses to #8 Michigan State, #6 Wisconsin, and #2 Arizona. opponents have a Pomeroy rating better tAs strong as the Michigan schedule has been, it still will have trouble explaining a loss to #180 Charlotte in November, just as the Cats have trouble explaining their loss to #111 South Carolina.

Everything surrounding this matchup suggests another game that will not be decided until the last few possessions.

MICHIGAN has averaged 63 to 61 possessions per game, scoring 74.0 ppg (1.165 ppp) and allowing 64.8 ppg (1.022 ppp). MICHIGAN has turned the ball over on 14.8% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MICHIGAN has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 29.0% about right at the 29% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.3%, about 1% above the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged 68 possessions per game, producing 75.4 ppg (1.109 ppp) and allowing 66.5 ppg (0.984 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.0% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 42.1% and 70.4% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of 0.7251 (#5).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by a fraction of a point. The predicted score from the model is 70-70, but the Cats have two advantages that should tip the scales in the Cats' favor-Rebounding and defensive efficiency. Michigan hold a slight advantage with offensive efficiency. The pace of this game should be about 66 possessions for each team. Pomeroy has this game in Michigan's favor by 1 points, 71-70 in a game played at a pace of 61 possessions. Vegas see this game in Kentucky's favor by 2 points, 71-69.

See how other Big Blue Fans see this game's likely outcome by clicking the following link.

You can enter your prediction at any time prior to tip off by visiting the 247 Sports prediction thread for this game at:

Game Summary:

Coach Calipari stays with the all freshmen starting lineup with Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, James Young, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, to start the game. Willie Cauley-Stein is not available for this Elite 8 contest due to an ankle injury sustained after only 4 minutes on the court against Louisville on Friday night. Alex Poythress, Hawkins, Lee, and Polson will probably see action off the bench. Michigan starts Morgan (6-8), Robinson (6-6), Stauskas (6-6), LeVert (6-6), and Walton (6-1)

Michigan controls the tip, but missed on their first shot, a 3 pointer, but the Cats' Dakari Johnson turned the ball over on 2 of the Cats' first 3 possessions, allowing Michigan to sprint to an early 6-2 lead, prompting an early Kentucky timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats miss, and Michjigan drains their first 3 pointer of the game to take a 9-2 lead. James Young makes a basket on a drive to cut the Michigan lead to 5, 9-4, at the under 16 media timeout and the Wolverines in possession. In the second segment, the Wolverines stretched their lead to a game high 8 points, 14-6, but the Cats clawed back to within 2 points, 16-14 with 12:01 remaining. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats still trail by 2, 18-16, and Andrew Harrison will be shooting one free throw to trim the lead to a single point after the timeout.

Andrew completes the 3 point play. Even though the Cats got a defensive stop, they could not take their first lead and Michigan goes back on top by 3 on another offensive rebound put back basket, their 4 th of the game. The game goes to the under 8 media timeout with Michigan maintaining the 3 point lead, 22-19 and in possession of the ball following their 6 th offensive rebound of the game. Out of the timeout, the teams trade 3 pointers, and then Michigan runs off 5 straight points to go back on top by 8, 30-22 with 5:45 remaining. Michigan then gets Dakari Johnson to turn the ball over for the third time, and scoring a layup at the other end to give Michigan their first double digit lead, 32-22, prompting another Kentucky timeout with 5:09 left in the first half. Andrew Harrison makes 1 of 2 free throws, and following a Michigan miss, James Young makes his second 3 pointer of the game to trim the lead to 6 points, 32-26. Michigan then has a shot clock violation taking the game to the under 4 media timeout with 3:52 remaining in the first half and the Cats in possession.

After the timeout, Young makes a driving floater in the lane, Lee blocks a shot, and then gets the offensive round basket, his fourth of the game to complete an 8-0 Kentucky run and forcing a Michigan timeout with 2:54 left in the first half. After the timeout, the teams trade scores with Michigan playing from the 1 to 3 point lead until a baseline jumper by Randle tied the game 37-37 at the half.

UK scored its 37 points on 29 possessions for the half, and MICHIGAN scored its 37 points on 29 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 17-12, and UK won the offensive glass, 8-7. Kentucky converted its 8 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points, and MICHIGAN used its 7 second chance possession to score 8 second chance points. MICHIGAN had an efficiency of 1.000 ppp for its 29 first chance possessions, and 1.142 ppp for its 7-second chance possession. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 29 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. The Cats managed to grab 61.5% of their misses as offensive rebounds while MICHIGAN managed to get 43.8% of their misses for second chance possessions.66.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-27 overall [55.6%] and 2-3 from long range [66.7%]. For MICHIGAN, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 11-20 [55.0%] and from long range, MICHIGAN hit 3-8 [37.5%].

The Cats committed 6 turnovers in the first half, one for each 4.8 possessions. MICHIGAN committed 4 turnovers in this first half, one for each 7.2 possessions.

Second Half

Cats open the second half drawing the 3 rd foul on Morgan on the first possession, and then turn the ball over. Michigan misses their first 3 point attempt, and Julius Randle get an offensive rebound put back for the Cats first lead of the game. Then following a Michigan turnover, Randle scores on the blocks for a 4 point lead. Alex Poythress blocks Robinson, and then gets a put back basket at the other end to lift the Cats to a 6 point lead, 45-39. However, Michigan stops the run with a pair of jump shots, one just inside the arc and the other from beyond the arc to trim the lead to 3, 47-44, at the under 16 media timeout with Michigan in possession with 15:03 remaining.

In the second segment, the Cats manage to cling to their slim lead, with Michigan catching up at 47-47 and again at 51-51 before a fast break basket lifts the Wolverines back on top, prompting a Kentucky timeout with 12:24 remaining. After the timeout, Michigan ties a UK player up on two consecutive drives. The first tie up stayed with the Cats, but the arrow favored Michigan the second time, for a UK turnover. Following a UK block of a Michigan shot, Andrew Harrison walked as he started to advance the ball to the other end, returning the possession to Michigan at the under 12 media timeout with 11:45 remaining and the Wolverines holding the 2 point lead, 53-51.

In the third segment, he Wolverines go up by 4, 55-51, but the Cats score the next 7 points to retake a 3 point lead, 58-55 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:36 to play and the Cats in possession of the ball. The key score of the segment was a 3 pointer by Aaron Harrison, his first basket of the game. Out of the timeout, Randle gets a put back basket to post his 24 th double double of this season, second most ever by a freshman in NCAA history. Then Andrew Harrison makes a basket on a drive to lift the Cats to their biggest lead, 7 points, 62-55, forcing a Michigan timeout with 6:24 remaining. Out of the timeout, Michigan answers with a 3 pointer to stop the UK run at 11-0, then Andrew Harrison turns the ball over. Then Michigan gets an offensive rebound basket, is fouled by Aaron Harrison, his 4 th , and Morgan makes the free throw to trim the lead to 1 point, 62-61. The Cats answer with Aaron Harrison's second 3 pointer, and the Cats maintain a 4 point lead at the under 4 media timeout, 69-65, with 2:26 left in the game. Michigan will be shooting a pair of free throws after the timeout.

In the final segment, the Cats respond to the 2 point lead with a 3 pointer by Aaron Harrison, his 3 rd of the game, but Michigan's Robinson answers with a 3 of his own to trim the score to 72-70. Kentucky has a shot clock violation, and Michigan has the ball with 1 minute to play, and they take a timeout to play these final possessions. Michigan missed close in, but kept the possession alive for two 3 point attempts before Morgan gets the tip in to tie the score with 31 seconds remaining. Coach Calipari takes a timeout to plan this final possession with a chance to win. Aaron Harrison makes a 3 pointer with 2.6 seconds left. Michigan takes a timeout. Michigan's attempt from mid-court misses, and the Never-Say-Die Cats win 75-72, and advance to the final four for the third time in Coach Calipari's 5 seasons at the helm.


UK scored its 75 points in a total of 57 possessions (1.315 ppp) for the game, and MICHIGAN scored its 72 points on a total of 56 possessions (1.286 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards with a 36-24 advantage, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 17-14 Kentucky used its 17 second chance possessions to score 17 second chance points, and MICHIGAN converted their 14 offensive rebounds into 23 second chance points. MICHIGAN had an offensive efficiency of 0.875 ppp on its 56 first chance possessions and 1.643 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 1.018 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 17 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 63.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MICHIGAN was able to convert 43.8%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 6-11 [54.5%]. MICHIGAN made 11-14 [78.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 31-58 overall [53.4%] and 7-11 from long range [63.6%]. For MICHIGAN, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 20-39 [51.3%] and from long range, MICHIGAN hit 7-18 [38.9%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions. The Cats forced 7 MICHIGAN turnovers, one for every 8.0 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: The Final Four of the NCAA Tournament as the Midwest Region Champions against the West Region Champions, Wisconsin on Saturday, April 5, 2014.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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