It is a road game -- kind of. It is a reunion -- kind of. It is a finale -- kind of.
There are a lot of things that today's Michigan-Oakland game could be categorized as. The Wolverines are traveling to the Palace of Auburn Hills, which is right near the Oakland campus, so while it is a road game there will be a lot of Michigan fans there.
It is kind of a reunion, since former Wolverine Laval Lucas-Perry now comes off the bench for the Golden Grizzlies. And it is kind of a finale because after today, Michigan coach John Beilein has said he doesn't want to renew the series.
So what are the most important things Michigan needs to do to come out with a win? Here are three of them:
Keep an eye on Corey Petros
He won't be the first name on the Michigan scouting report -- that'll be guard Reggie Hamilton -- but the 6-foot-10 Petros is the guy who should most concern Michigan. The redshirt freshman has the potential to be a star for Oakland in the not-so-distant future. Nine games into his college career and he is already averaging a double-double -- 12 points and 11.7 rebounds -- and he has done it against quality competition. He had seven points and 13 rebounds in Oakland's 89-81 upset of Tennessee and had 23 points and 16 rebounds in his last game against Ohio. He could be a matchup nightmare for Michigan if it goes man-to-man.
The Wolverines will be most focused on Hamilton, who could play for any team in the Big Ten. He's a small guard -- 5-foot-11 -- who will have the ball in his hands on almost every possession. But he's a scorer, too, leading the Golden Grizzlies with 20.1 points a game. Where Michigan could exploit him is by pressuring him, as he has 32 turnovers along with his 41 assists. But if he can put pressure on Stu Douglass or Trey Burke to defend him, he could go off.
Don't Overlook Oakland
Oakland might not have the name Michigan's past five opponents have had, but the Golden Grizzlies are just as good as a major conference school -- especially in a one-game scenario. Michigan didn't look past Oakland last season, in part because the Golden Grizzlies were coming off an upset of Tennessee in Knoxville, but this season they shouldn't overlook them either. As long as Michigan keeps its focus, it should win -- and it'll be a win that will look good on the Michigan NCAA tournament resume at the end of the season. But if the Wolverines start today like they played in the second halves against Virginia and Iowa State, they could be in for a long day.