The Cavaliers host No. 15 Michigan tomorrow in the 13th annual ACC / Big Ten Challenge. The Big Ten has won the past two Challenges, and is looking to make it a streak. The Wolverines are coming off a successful trip to the Maui Invitational, taking third place with a 2-1 record, posting wins over UCLA and No. 8 Memphis. Michigan's sole loss this season was to No. 6 Duke, 82-75.
This is a big game for Virginia, whose out of conference schedule doesn't allow for very many losses, despite already dropping one to TCU in the Paradise Jam. Fifth year Michigan head coach John Beilein, despite this being his first time coaching Michigan against Virginia, is not entirely unfamiliar with the Cavaliers, as he tried recruiting Virginia senior Mike Scott while he was head coach at West Virginia.
"Virginia is a young team like us," Beilein said earlier today. "They have three seniors out there. I think I recruited Mike Scott when I was still coaching at West Virginia, so he's been around a little bit; he's a very experienced player. [Virginia senior Sammy] Zeglinski and the rest of the players I haven't seen before. They're going through a transition in their third year with Coach Bennett and they are playing very much like Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Green Bay. They're a difficult team to play against, both offensively and defensively.
Michigan spent the first half of last week at Maui, playing three games in three days.
"We came back, and we had three different segments of practice after a redeye on Friday. The kids stayed up, we all slept really well that night, we took Saturday off, and yesterday we had a really good practice. So we'll try to do the same thing today, and then get to the game."
When asked about the keys to success in a road game, Beilein commented that he knows this is going to be a low-possession game.
"I think it's going to have a lot to do with the backcourt coming to play. I don't think Stu (Douglass) is really happy with his five turnovers in his last game, and nobody's happy about that. One thing I try to look for in success on the road is low turnover numbers. A turnover often leads to a fast-break layup or dunk, and it changes the energy of the game. But if you only turn it over eight or nine times a game, that limits those momentum swings. We've had success, and I think our teams over the long run have had a lot of success on the road, and I think that may be one of the reasons; the backcourt has got to value the ball. This will be a 50 possession game, I think we had 70 possessions in our last game, so if you throw a couple away that won't be good."
When asked what the team has been focusing on for the Virginia matchup, Michigan senior guard Zack Novak said, "I think the big thing is that we're going to have to be solid with the way we cut and move on offense. We need to get good shots -- get good team shots and we should have a good result."
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 29 at John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia is 5-5 all time in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge, while Michigan is 4-6. Both teams found road successes last season, as the Cavaliers defeated No. 13 Minnesota, while the Wolverines topped Clemson.