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Saturday, December 15, 2012
W2W4: Michigan vs. West Virginia

By Kieran Darcy

Here are three things to watch when No. 3-ranked Michigan (10-0) faces West Virginia (4-4) on Saturday at the Barclays Center -- the nightcap of the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival tripleheader. (Fordham vs. Princeton and St. John's vs. St. Francis of Brooklyn are the first two games.)

Tipoff is at 8 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN.

THE TIE THAT BINDS: Michigan coach John Beilein was the coach at West Virginia from 2002 to 2007, before getting the Michigan job. This is his first game against his former school.

Beilein led the Mountaineers to the NCAA tournament Elite Eight in 2005 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2006, and they won the NIT in 2007. In his first five years with the Wolverines, he's led them to the NCAA tournament three times.

THE WOLVERINES: Michigan is off to its best start since the 1988-89 season, when the Wolverines -- led by Glen Rice and Rumeal Robinson, and coached by Steve Fisher -- won the national championship, defeating Seton Hall in overtime in the title game.

Six-foot sophomore guard Trey Burke is averaging a team-high 17.1 points and 6.9 assists per game. Tim Hardaway Jr., a 6-foot-6 junior guard, averages 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Michigan is 34th in the country in points per game (77.9), and seventh in field-goal percentage (50.7). The Wolverines have beaten their first 10 opponents by an average of 21.2 points.

THE MOUNTAINEERS: West Virginia, in its first season in the Big 12, is off to a shaky start in nonconference play. The Mountaineers lost at Gonzaga by 34, 84-50, to open the season, and lost at Duquesne (60-56) their last time out.

Only one player is averaging in double figures -- 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Juwan Staten, who is averaging 10.6 points per game.

West Virginia is 23rd in the country in rebounds per game (41.6), but shooting a woeful 39 percent from the field, which ranks them No. 310 in Division I.