Vanderbilt basketball vs Michigan in NIT second round: Score prediction, scouting report

Vanderbilt basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse wanted to schedule a game against Michigan due to the NBA connections between himself and Wolverines coach Juwan Howard.

That didn’t work out. But the two teams find themselves facing off anyway: this time in the second round of the NIT at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday (11 a.m. CT, ESPN) .

Third-seeded Michigan (18-15) has had a disappointing season. Like Vanderbilt, poor performance in the non-conference put the Wolverines behind entering conference play when it came to their tournament resume. Although they played better in the Big Ten, they lost their last three games to get knocked out of contention.

The Commodores (21-14) felt they should’ve been in the NCAA Tournament after winning eight of their final 10 games going into Selection Sunday, but too many bad losses left them not even among the first four out.

With Clemson’s loss in its first game, Saturday’s winner will host a quarterfinal game against the winner between Morehead State and UAB.

Michigan defeated Toledo, 90-80, in the first round. Vanderbilt defeated Yale, 71-62.

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Both teams short-handed

The Wolverines dealt with a devastating injury early in the season when point guard Jaelin Llewellyn suffered a torn ACL on Dec. 4. That has forced them to start a true freshman, Dug McDaniel, at the position. Michigan was also without wing Jett Howard, a potential NBA prospect, against Toledo. It is unclear if Howard will be able to go against Vanderbilt. But the Wolverines have figured out how to we ather his loss; they won the last three games in which he wasn’t available.


The Commodores, meanwhile, will be without center Liam Robbins, who suffered a season-ending injury on March 1, and forward Myles Stute, who entered the transfer portal and opted to skip the NIT.

Will Dickinson make a difference?

Hunter Dickinson, Michigan’s 7-foot-1 center, has been the Wolverines’ focal point offensively. He averages 18.4 points and nine rebounds per game and can also shoot well from three.

Without Robbins to provide a counterpoint on the other side, it’s likely that Dickinson will be able to get his, both at the rim and on the boards. He has three 30-point games this season.

If Vanderbilt isn’t able to slow Dickinson, it may be best served allowing him to score but trying to shut down everyone else instead. Michigan lacks depth at both the small forward and power forward positions, which is where the Commodores could opt to focus their defensive efforts.

Tyrin Lawrence vs. Kobe Bufkin

Vanderbilt’s Tyrin Lawrence and Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin are very similar players. Both are 6-4 shooting guards who are able to space the floor but are most comfortable driving to the basket and scoring at the rim. Both have also come on late in the season. Lawrence has scored in double digits in his last eight game, including a season-high 25 against Yale, while Bufkin has been in double digits in 11 of his last 12 games.

Whichever 2-guard performs the best may well decide the matchup.

Score prediction

Vanderbilt 82, Michigan 77: This should be a high-scoring game, but Vanderbilt is able to win with its home-court advantage and an opponent that hasn’t had much time to prepare for its offense.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt basketball vs. Michigan in NIT: Score prediction, scouting