Jim Boylen's aggressive style of scheduling is rewarding the Runnin' Utes with a big home game against the Michigan Wolverines tomorrow night at the Huntsman Center. This will be the first game of what is probably the biggest home stand in Utah Basketball history with Oklahoma making a trip to Salt Lake as well on Saturday.
Utah is coming off a big win over Idaho State as they improved to (4-4). After losing two in a row, this was more of a statement win, trying to prove that they are done with losing to mediocre teams. They are hoping to take whatever momentum that they have into this crucial week of big home games.
Michigan started the season ranked and got as high as No. 15 before losing three in a row. They have since rebounded with a win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff and are currently sitting at (4-3) on the season. They are still a good team, but haven't played well against good competition. This will be the Wolverine's first true road game of the season.
Michigan is led by sensational junior guard Manny Harris. He is averaging 21.1 points , 8.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game so far this season. Harris is a versatile player for Michigan who already has one triple double on the year, and was one rebound shy of a second one against Creighton.
Since returning from injury, JC transfer Jay Watkins has been a big factor for the Utes. In just three games played as a Ute he is averaging 11.1 points per game. He is coming off a 15 point performance in just 19 minutes against Idaho State. He had the game winning assist to Shawn Glover against Illinois.
Utah's star player, Carlon Brown, has struggled after a decent start on the year. Over the first four games of the season Brown was averaging 16.5 points per game. Since then he is averaging just 9 points per game. He is this teams biggest play maker and needs to get his game going to help the Utes keep any hope of making the NCAA tournament.
Michigan lacks great size, which is an advantage for the Utes. The Utes have skilled big men with David Foster, Kim Tillie and Jason Washburn. Michigan's two centers are only averaging 3 minutes per game, while the Utes give their bigs about 20 minutes per game. Look for Boylen to attack a smaller Michigan team in the paint.
Utah has played decent in big games thus far. They beat rival Utah State and had a come from behind victory over Illinois. They did however lose by 22 to Oklahoma State. Home court advantage could play a big part for the Utes, since this is Michigan's first true road game of the year. This could be one of the bigger crowds that the Runnin' Utes have had over the past few years.