The No. 15 Michigan basketball team will face its first true road test Tuesday night in Virginia. Last season, the Big Ten won its second consecutive Big Ten/ACC Challenge, with six Big Ten teams winning. But this season, with the addition of Nebraska, there will be 12 games. If there is a 6-6 tie, the championship will go to the team that won the Challenge the previous year.
Both teams enter 5-1. Virginia is coming off a Thanksgiving Day win over Wisconsin-Green Bay. Michigan is facing a slightly faster turnaround after returning from Maui on Friday and not practicing Saturday, but Michigan coach John Beilein was confident that the Wolverines wouldn't have tired legs for Tuesday's matchup.
"We're going to have to play a good ball game to beat them, especially at their place," senior guard Zack Novak said. "I don't think they’re going to beat themselves. These are the type of games you want to play."
Here are three keys for Michigan:
1. Michigan needs to stop Mike Scott. The senior forward is averaging 15 points a game while shooting 53-percent from the floor. Scott suffered an ankle injury last season and missed 21 games, but was given a medical redshirt. The 6-foot-8 senior is know for his shooting and rebounding ability. The Wolverines will need to focus on keeping Scott off the glass and containing him. He's not an outsider shooter so the Wolverines may look to run some 1-3-1 zone to clog up the inside.
2. The Wolverines back court needs to step up. Senior guard Stu Douglass and freshman point guard Trey Burke will both need to turn in solid games and handle the ball well. The two accounted for 27 of the Wolverines' turnovers through the first six games. If the Wolverines have too many turnovers and Michigan gets into foul trouble, the Cavaliers will find themselves at the free-throw line, where they shoot 79 percent.
3. Tim Hardaway Jr. needs to show up in both halves. Against Duke Hardaway Jr. was held scoreless in the first half, and the players around him didn't do enough to keep the game tight before halftime. If Michigan digs itself a hole early, it could be too difficult for the Wolverines to win on the road. Hardaway Jr. needs to be a consistent contributor throughout the game whether than means creating shots for himself or creating shots for his teammates when his aren't falling or aren't available.