On November 17th, the Michigan Wolverines take on the Marquette Golden Eagles on the famed hardwood of Madison Square Garden for the 2016 edition of the 2K Classic.
Early season tournaments such as this one are skillfully designed ways to see some of the better teams in the country play each other despite not being from the same conferences.
This meeting between the Big Ten and Big East pits two teams ready to put last season behind them and get back to heights they were previously at.
How to watch or listen
Game Time: Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2 (Rece Davis, Jim Calhoun)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Spread: Michigan opened as a 1-point favorite.
Records ATS: Michigan (0-1) | Marquette (2-0)
Michigan leads the all-time series 13-6 against Marquette.
What to Watch For
Their Seasons So Far
Each team has played just twice heading into this matchup, with neither facing much of a challenge. Michigan handled Howard and IUPUI while Marquette fared even better against Vanderbilt and then Howard as well. KenPom ratings put both teams in the top 40 nationally thus far, but with neither in the top 30. However, even top 40 territory is quite a leg up from where the two stood just last season. The Wolverines were ranked 50th by season's end; Marquette was way down at 97th. A 2-0 start isn't much, but it's nice nonetheless.
Leading the Michigan charge these days are guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin. Coach John Beilein rarely takes either of the two off the court, playing the two a combined 66 minutes per game this November. They have 12 of the team's 26 assists and 18 of its 49 made field goals.
Michigan hasn't been as dominant offensively as it would have hoped through two games. The team is actually 0-1 against the spread while Marquette is undefeated both straight-up and ATS. Michigan was perceived to be an upper-tier team in the Big Ten before the season started.
Balanced Marquette Attack
For Marquette, as established earlier, it uses a much more balanced attack. Coach Steve Wojciechowski rotates guys in and out. Five players are averaging double figures and nine players are averaging between 13.5 and 26.5 minutes per game. Woj did a similar thing last season with a seven-man rotation, though results were not ideal. The reason the Golden Eagles' offensive numbers are better this time around is because they are shooting an insane 51.9 percent from the floor as a team.
That number will come down fast, but it makes for an intriguing offensive showdown with the Wolverines. The Golden Eagles are also firing defensively this year. They have 21 steals in two games, good for 16th in the country. Forcing Walton and Irvin into turnovers will be key for their success.