If Michigan wants to have a chance against the Blue Devils, the health and play of Mitch McGary is going to be crucial.
McGary has been ineffective to say the least early on in this season. McGary really came on strong last season for the Wolverines in the NCAA tournament and was a key element in allowing them to reach the title game. He was seen as a sure-fire lottery pick in the NBA draft after his freshman year by many. Instead, he decided to return to Ann Arbor for another year.
So far, it has not gone as planned.
McGary hurt his lower back in the offseason and it has carried over to the start of this season. He missed the season opener and has played in the other five games, but has only started one because of the lingering back issue. McGary is averaging 8.2 points per game along with 7.8 rebounds in 25 minutes per contest.
He has seen increased minutes in recent games. Most notably their big win over Florida State when he played 33 minutes off the bench and scored 14 points and brought down 12 rebounds in a 82-80 overtime win over the Seminoles. He did not shoot particularly well in the game, going 6-15 from the floor. However, he showed how much of a difference he can make in a game by controlling the glass, providing a low post presence, and making defenses cater to him, which opens up the floor for everyone else.
McGary’s is not fully healthy yet and the Florida State was the best game he has had so far this season. In Michigan’s last two games, McGary has averaged 28 minutes per game and in those minutes scored six points per game along with 8.5 boards.
If McGary can only give the Wolverines six points and eight rebounds against the Blue Devils Tuesday Michigan will not leave Carmeron Indoor Stadium with a win.
McGary, who is reportedly close to getting to be fully healthy, needs to find some extra strength come Tuesday because with a healthy McGary Michigan can dominate the paint against Duke.
Duke’s biggest weakness is down low. With no legitimate center, like in years past, Duke relies on their guards and perimeter bigs like Jabari Parker. Duke uses its speed and athleticism to beat teams. They do not want to battle with teams down low.
Duke would not be able to handle a healthy McGary. He is to big and strong for them to keep him off the boards. McGary would limit second chances for Duke and would have a field day scoring on the offensive end with put-backs as well as post-ups against Duke’s bigs. He would be able to dominate the game, which would open up everything else because Duke would have to put so much attention and effort into stopping him.
Michigan has a great chance to knock off a vulnerable Duke team Tuesday, but if McGary does not have a double or appear healthy, Duke will come away with the win at home.