No. 22 Michigan and Eastern Michigan are located about eight miles from one another, but they will travel roughly an hour for Friday’s game in Detroit.
The meeting on a neutral site will be the first meeting between the teams since 2014, when Eastern Michigan scored a 45-42 upset of the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Michigan is coming off a season-opening 75-56 win over Purdue Fort Wayne on Monday, a game which saw the continuation of one great career and the possible start of another for the Wolverines.
Junior center Hunter Dickinson is an All-American candidate and started off the season dominating once again, scoring 22 points and collecting 12 rebounds.
But it was the play of a newcomer for Michigan that caught a lot of eyes.
Freshman Jett Howard, the son of Michigan coach Juwan Howard, made five shots from 3-point range and scored 21 points in a dazzling debut. The performance came after he scored 30 points in an exhibition win over Ferris State.
If that’s a sign of things to come, Michigan will have quite a 1-2 punch for the rest of the season.
“He’s been around the game for a long time,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said of his son. “He also has a high IQ. He’s a willing passer, he has great size, he sees the floor. I’ve seen that from day one when he first started playing basketball. And the ball is going to be in his hands.”
On the other side, Eastern Michigan also has a talked-about newcomer.
Sophomore Emoni Bates, who at one time was the top high school recruit in the country from Ypsilanti, is playing for the Eagles after transferring from Memphis.
Bates didn’t play on Monday in a 75-66 season-opening win over Division II opponent Wayne State, but Eastern Michigan coach Stan Heath said after the game that Bates would suit up against Michigan.
“We have to play better,” Heath said. “With the size they put out on the court, us rebounding and defending inside, that’s going to be a big deal. Just us being a team that can control the ball, but not give up open looks. They’ve got some really good shooters.”
Eastern Michigan also features sophomore Noah Farrakhan, who averaged 16.6 points a game last year as a freshman.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we present some challenges too,” Heath said. “We’ve got some speed, we’ve got some quickness, we’ve got some guys that will shoot and play a little bit better.”
If there was a concern that came out of the win against Purdue Fort Wayne, it was the 15 offensive rebounds the Wolverines gave up.
“It’s more of effort and also putting the body on someone,” Howard said. “But (it was the) first game. We will get better. I’m not panicking.”
–Field Level Media