Nothing But ‘Net – Week #14 – 01/29/2018 – Shootout

Quick Look

The (#25) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they lost it. On Thursday (01/25/2018), they lost at (#3) Purdue 92-88. The loss lowers Michigan’s record to 17-6 (6-4 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

This one was a shootout, and Purdue had more offensive firepower than Michigan. It was like a videogame (NCAA Jam 2K18?), with lots of 3-pointers and monster dunks, and not a lot of defense. Purdue led for most of the 1st half, including halftime (41-36). The lead changed hands a lot in the 2nd half, until Purdue went ahead for good at the 8:35 mark. Michigan hung around, and the Purdue lead was only 3 points (85-82) with 0:31 to go, but that was as close as UM could get.

Stats

The stats for the game are amazing. Michigan shot very well overall (35-for-58 = 60.3%), they shot 3-pointers very well (13-for-23 = 56.5%), but they didn’t shoot free throws very well (5-for-9 = 55.6%). They (surprisingly) won the rebounding battle (25-21), but lost the turnover battle (11-10). Purdue won the game at the free throw line: they got there often, and made their free throws (19-for-23 = 82.6%).

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Isaiah Livers, Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner. Four of them hit double figures (all but Livers). MAAR was Michigan’s high scorer with 26 points, Simpson had 16, Wagner had 15, and Matthews had 10.

Jon Teske did his best trying to slow down Purdue’s twin monsters (7’2″ and 7’3″), and he even scored 8 points along the way.

Jordan Poole and Duncan Robinson each had 5 points.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Livers only scored 3 points. He played decent defense.

Jaaron Simmons played for 3 minutes and didn’t attempt a shot.

Who Else Played

No one else played.

Who Didn’t Play

Eli Brooks, Austin Davis, Ibi Watson, and the practice squad players (C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) didn’t get into the game.

The Big Picture

This was a game that Michigan stood very little chance of winning, but they gave it a good shot. Those kind of shooting numbers will win most games, even on the road, but Purdue is red-hot right now. There’s no need to be upset, disappointed, or worried about this result.

Predicted Win Total

The Purdue game was a “Should Lose” game, and Michigan lost it. No change to the Predicted Win Total.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 20

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

4

11/20/2017

16

5

11/27/2017

16

6

12/04/2017

16

7

12/11/2017

16

8

12/18/2017

18

9

12/25/2017

18

10

01/01/2018

18

11

01/08/2018

19

12

01/15/2018

20

13

01/22/2018

20

14

01/29/2018

20

What’s Next

After playing three games 2 weeks ago, and only one game last week, this week Michigan is back to their regular schedule of playing 2 games. On Monday (01/29/2018, 7:00 p.m., FS1), Michigan plays Northwestern, then on Saturday (02/03/2018, 2:30 p.m., FOX), they play Minnesota. Both games are in Crisler Arena.

Northwestern is currently 13-9 (4-5 in the Big Ten), with no impressive wins, and no embarrassing losses. They have really underperformed so far this season. A lot was expected of them. Michigan should be able to beat them, but they’ll have to play a solid game. No coasting.

Minnesota is currently 14-9 (3-7 in the Big Ten), with no impressive wins, and no embarrassing losses. They have also really underperformed so far this season, including 2 losses to Northwestern. Just like the Northwestern game, Michigan should be able to beat them, but they have to play well.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #13 – 01/22/2018 – A Brutal Week

Quick Look

The (#23) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played three games last week, and they won two and lost one. On Monday (01/15/2018), they beat Maryland 68-67 in Crisler Arena, on Thursday (01/18/2018), they lost at Nebraska 72-52, then on Sunday (01/21/2018), they beat Rutgers 62-47 in Crisler Arena. The two wins and one loss leave Michigan with a record of 17-5 (6-3 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

Wait, what made this a “brutal week”? Winning 2 out of 3 is pretty good, right? It’s tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, right? Well, yes, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, and it is tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, but it was the way Michigan played this week that made it “brutal”. Combined with the (glorious) win over Michigan State last Saturday (01/13/2018), Michigan played 4 games in 8 days, 2 of them on the road, and they showed it. They played with “tired legs” and a distinct lack of crispness. They made way too many physical and mental errors that they hadn’t made in weeks. They should have beaten Maryland by 20 – 25 points, not one point. They should have battled Nebraska to the final possession, with a 50-50 chance to win it at the end, not lose by 20. They never should have fallen behind Rutgers by 6 points (8-2) with 6 minutes gone in the game. They were just off all week, and they were lucky to win 2 out of 3 games.

The Maryland game was very frustrating. After the huge win at MSU just 2 days before, the crowd was just waiting for a reason to cheer, and the team refused to give it to them. Turnovers. Missed layups. Bricked wide-open 3-pointers. Dumb fouls. The first 27 minutes were miserable. Maryland led for the entire 1st half, by as many as 14 points, and for the first 7 minutes of the 2nd half. Michigan got their first lead (42-41) with 13:02 left in the game, then gave it away again (47-46) with 10:40 to go. They got it back again (49-47) 13 seconds later, and led the rest of the game, until the final seconds. In the part of the game where Michigan caught up to Maryland, Michigan hit five 3-pointers in a row in about 2 minutes. That finally gave the crowd something to cheer about. Things were looking pretty solid, with Michigan leading by 5 (66-61) with only 25 seconds left, but Maryland hit two 3-pointers, and Michigan missed a pair of free throws, and suddenly Maryland led by one point (67-66) with only 3.5 seconds left. Fortunately, Maryland fouled Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman as he drove to the basket with 1.2 seconds left, and he hit both free throws to win the game. It was very exciting, but it shouldn’t have been. Michigan should have won this game easily, not by one point in the last second.

The Nebraska game was horrible, just horrible. Michigan made way too many mistakes, and handed the game to Nebraska. With 13:51 to go in the 1st half, UM hit a 3-pointer to get their last lead, 12-10. They missed a shot, committed 2 turnovers, and made another basket. At that point (11:10 left in the 1st half), they were only down 4 points (16-12). They then proceeded to miss 8 shots in a row, and commit 3 more turnovers. The next time they scored was a pair of free throws with 5:05 left, to pull within 8 points (24-16). They finally made a basket with 3:43 to go, which got them within 9 points (28-19), and they limped into halftime down 11 points (32-21). The big turning point in the game came early in the 2nd half. Michigan hit a basket to pull within 8 points (35-27) with 17:43 to go. Nebraska shot and missed, and Charles Matthews got the rebound cleanly. He stood there for a couple seconds, deciding who to pass it to, then he threw it right to a Nebraska player. The Nebraska player didn’t do anything sneaky to steal the ball, Matthews threw it right to him. To make things even worse, he just stood there and watched as the Nebraska player ran past him for an uncontested layup. He just froze. That was the game right there. Michigan never got any closer than 12 points, and Nebraska kept the lead in the 16-18 point range for most of the rest of the game. It was the worst game Michigan has played in a while.

At least the Rutgers game was a solid win. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t as easy as the final score would suggest, but it was a solid win. In the early going, both teams had trouble scoring, with Rutgers leading 8-2 with 14:02 left in the 1st half. Yes, Michigan had scored 2 points in the first 6 minutes of the game. They made their first shot, then missed 9 shots in a row. They missed layups, short jumpers, and open 3-pointers. They got the shots they wanted, they just couldn’t get them to fall. Michigan finally got the lead back (13-10) with 10:35 to go, and they never trailed again. They led by 6 at halftime (27-21), and finally got a double-digit lead (37-27) at the 15:34 mark. They never let the lead get below 7 points, and kept it in the 12-14 point range for most of the rest of the game.

Stats

The stats for the Maryland game are not very impressive. Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (25-for-61 = 41.0%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (11-for-26 = 42.3%), and they shot free throws pretty poorly (7-for-12 = 58.3%). They lost the rebounding battle (36-30), but they won the turnover battle (6-12). The 3-point shooting is what won the game for Michigan.

The stats for the Nebraska game are embarrassing. Michigan shot terribly overall (21-for-56 = 37.5%), they shot even more terribly from 3-point range (4-for-18 = 22.2%), and they shot free throws pretty poorly (6-for-10 = 60.0%). They won the rebounding battle (32-29), but they lost the turnover battle (12-9). Poor shooting and turnovers – not a good combination.

The stats for the Rutgers game are mediocre. Michigan shot poorly overall (23-for-54 = 42.6%), they shot 3-pointers poorly (8-for-25 = 32.0%), and they shot free throws pretty well (8-for-11 = 72.7%). They tied in the rebounding battle (33-33), and they won the turnover battle (9-13). Michigan won this game with defense, not offense. They held Rutgers to even worse shooting (17-for-51 = 33.3% overall, 2-for-9 = 22.2% from 3-point range).

Who Looked Good

The starters this week were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Isaiah Livers, Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner.

No one had a great week this week. A few players had 2 good games, but no one had 3 good games. Wagner had 18 points (and 11 rebounds, for another double-double) vs. Maryland, and 16 points vs. Rutgers, but he only had 2 points (on 1-for-5 shooting) vs. Nebraska.

Similarly, Matthews had 15 points vs. Nebraska (the only Michigan player in double figures), and 10 points vs. Rutgers, but only 7 points vs. Maryland.

The only other players with double figures this week were Simpson (5, 3, and 10), Jordan Poole (11, 5, and 4), and Duncan Robinson (6, 0, and 12).

MAAR got close to double figures (7, 9, and 6), and he did hit the 2 clutch free throws to win the Maryland game.

Livers also got close to double figures in 2 games (7 and 8 points), then laid an egg (0 points) vs. Rutgers. Once again, he played good, solid defense.

As usual, Jon Teske didn’t score much (5, 2, and 2), but he did play good defense, and he grabbed some important rebounds. He also gave Wagner a rest every now and then.

Jaaron Simmons is now the backup point guard, and he did a decent job spelling Simpson with 2, 4, and 2 points.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Eli Brooks played in the Maryland and Nebraska games, and failed to score. He didn’t even get into the Rutgers game. He is now the 3rd point guard, behind Simpson and Simmons.

Who Else Played

Ibi Watson didn’t play in the Maryland game, but he did get into the Nebraska and Rutgers games. He scored 4 points vs. Nebraska, and 0 vs. Rutgers.

Who Didn’t Play

Austin Davis and the practice squad players (C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) all failed to get into any of the games this week.

The Big Picture

Michigan doesn’t know how to handle prosperity. They finally got ranked last week, and they came out and played 3 lousy games, even though they won 2 of them. In close games, they work hard to get a defensive stop at a key moment, then throw the ball away. They don’t seem to understand the importance of momentum, both in an individual game and in the season as a whole. I don’t think they’re intentionally throwing the ball away or trying to lose key games, but I don’t think they understand how a key play can change the entire complexion of a game, and how a key win can turn around a whole season. It’s very frustrating to watch them play hard, have things under control, then just throw it all away with a dumb turnover or a missed easy layup.

So, Michigan survived their “hell week” (4 games in 8 days) with a 3-1 record, including their signature win against MSU. They probably don’t stand a chance of catching Purdue or Ohio State, but they could still finish as high as 3rd place in the Big Ten, if they can get back to the level of play they had vs. Purdue and MSU 2 weeks ago.

Predicted Win Total

I had the Nebraska game as a “Should Win” game, even though it was on the road. Michigan had never lost to Nebraska, and they crushed Nebraska 93-57 last year in Lincoln, so I figured they should win again this year. Wrong. I had the Rutgers game as a “Should Win”, and the Maryland game as a “Toss Up”. At the halfway point in the Big Ten season, here’s what’s left on Michigan’s schedule:

  • Should Win (1) – Penn State.
  • Should Lose (3) – Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland.
  • Toss Up (5) – Iowa, Northwestern (both), Minnesota, Ohio State.

At 17-5 (6-3), if Michigan wins the game they should win, loses the games they seem destined to lose, and goes 3-2 in the “Toss Up” games, that would give them a record of 21-10 (10-8). I’m going to leave the Predicted Win Total right where it is.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 20

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

4

11/20/2017

16

5

11/27/2017

16

6

12/04/2017

16

7

12/11/2017

16

8

12/18/2017

18

9

12/25/2017

18

10

01/01/2018

18

11

01/08/2018

19

12

01/15/2018

20

13

01/22/2018

20

What’s Next

After playing three games last week, this week Michigan only plays one game. On Thursday (01/25/2018, 7:00 p.m., ESPN), Michigan plays at (#3) Purdue.

Michigan just played Purdue in Crisler Arena 2 weeks ago, and they lost by one point on a questionable out-of-bounds call in the final seconds. It’s going to be a lot harder to stay with Purdue in their house. They are currently 19-2 (8-0 in the Big Ten), and riding a 14-game win streak. On the one hand, if Michigan plays like they have since the MSU game, they’ll get blown off the court. On the other hand, if they play like they did at MSU, they can beat Purdue, even on the road.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #12 – 01/15/2018 – So Close

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they lost one and won one. On Tuesday (01/09/2018), they lost to (#5) Purdue 70-69 in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (01/13/2018), they won at (#4) Michigan State 82-72. The loss and the win leave Michigan with a record of 15-4 (4-2 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

This week was SO CLOSE to being a perfect week. The win over MSU was huge, and very unexpected, but the loss to Purdue was heartbreaking. After trailing for most of the game, UM fought back in the closing moments of the Purdue game, only to have it stolen away by some lousy officiating. If the last 6.2 seconds of the game had been called correctly, Michigan could have won that game, but the officials blew it.

Purdue is a very good team, and they played very well. They outplayed Michigan for much of the game, and had a couple 14-point leads, but they couldn’t stop the relentless UM comeback in the 2nd half. The game was all tied up (69-69) with 28 seconds left, and Michigan had the ball with no shot clock. They ran the clock down to 6 seconds, and drove in for the go-ahead layup, or at least a foul. Instead, Purdue knocked the ball away, and the officials (correctly) signaled that it was UM’s ball. No problem, still plenty of time to take a go-ahead shot. Actually, they could have called a reach-in foul on the knock-away, but instead they viewed the replay for almost 5 minutes, then gave the ball to Purdue! Absolutely wrong! They compounded the error with 4 seconds left on the clock when they called a foul on Michigan on a clean take-away. The Purdue player hit one of the two free throws, and Michigan’s last second heave from near half-court rimmed out. The Purdue players danced like they had won the National Championship, the boos rained down, and the officials hustled off the court, the damage done. They were terrible, just terrible.

If you had told me that UM would go 1-1 last week, I would have been positive that it was a home win vs. Purdue and a road loss at MSU, not the other way around. UM rarely wins at MSU, and MSU has a loaded team this season. The game was close most of the way, with UM holding a small lead most of the game. MSU led by 3 at halftime (37-34), but the lead changed hands several times in the first 11+ minutes of the 2nd half. The turning point came at the 8:10 mark, with MSU up by one point (55-54). UM hit a 3-pointer, and never trailed again. Once Michigan got the lead up to 7-9 points, they kept it there. It was a very impressive win.

Stats

The stats for the Purdue game are actually pretty solid. Michigan shot pretty well overall (26-for-58 = 44.8%), they shot 3-pointers very well (10-for-22 = 45.5%), and they shot free throws reasonably well (7-for-11 = 63.6%). They won the rebounding battle (36-29) which is stunning, considering Purdue’s height advantage (a 7’2″ guy with a 7’3″ backup), but they lost the turnover battle (9-8). The reason Purdue won the game was their 3-point shooting (12-for-21 = 57.1%), including 5-for-5 to start the game, and 7-for-10 in the 1st half. It was like a videogame for much of the 1st half.

The stats for the MSU game are not nearly as impressive. Michigan shot decently overall (24-for-57 = 42.1%), they shot 3-pointers OK (6-for-15 = 40.0%), and they shot free throws pretty well (28-for-35 = 80.0%). Michigan lost the rebounding battle (31-32), but won the turnover battle big time (7-18). The important stat here is free throws. That’s where Michigan won the game. Why did Michigan shoot 35 free throws (and why did MSU shoot 32 free throws)? Because “TV Teddy” Valentine and his motley crew called 51 fouls in 40 minutes (25 against UM, 26 against MSU).

Who Looked Good

The starters for the Purdue game were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner. Isaiah Livers has been playing better than Robinson lately, so he got the start in the MSU game.

The star this week was definitely Wagner, with 11 points vs. Purdue, and a career-high 27 points vs. MSU, on 8-for-13 overall shooting (3-for-4 from 3-point range), and 8-for-8 shooting from the free throw line. He did a decent job defending the 7’2″ and 7’3″ guys from Purdue, and a great job defending the MSU centers.

If Wagner was “#1” this week, Simpson was “#1A”. He scored 15 points vs. Purdue (Michigan’s high scorer) and a career-high 16 points vs. MSU, had 5 assists in each game, and grabbed 6 and 4 rebounds. His only weak spot was free throw shooting: 1-for-2 vs. Purdue, and 5-for-10 vs. MSU. Michigan only missed 7 free throws vs. MSU, and he missed 5 of them. Sigh.

Matthews had a good week, with double figures in both games (14 and 10 points). He wasn’t very efficient (5-for-14 vs. Purdue, 3-for-10 vs. MSU), but he was UM’s leading rebounder (7) vs. Purdue.

MAAR had a pretty good week, with 7 and 14 points. He was also inefficient (3-for-9 and 3-for-11), but he did a good job on defense.

Livers hit double figures (10 points) off the bench vs. Purdue, and 6 points as a starter vs. MSU. He played hard in both games, and is becoming a solid defender. I really liked his dunk with 11 seconds left in the MSU game.

Jon Teske played in both games, and scored 0 and 4 points. He wasn’t much of a factor on offense, but he did play good defense, and he grabbed some important rebounds. He also gave Wagner a rest every now and then.

Jordan Poole continued to provide quality minutes off the bench, scoring 8 and 2 points.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Robinson played in both games, and didn’t do much. He scored 4 and 3 points, but was overwhelmed on the defensive end.

Eli Brooks played a few minutes in each game as the 2nd point guard. He failed to score. He plays good defense, and he runs the offense pretty well, but he isn’t much of a factor offensively.

Who Else Played

Austin Davis played for 2 minutes in the MSU game, and failed to score. He did commit 2 fouls.

Who Didn’t Play

Jaaron Simmons, Ibi Watson, and the practice squad players (C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) all failed to get into either game.

The Big Picture

This was a big week for Michigan, and it could have been even bigger. At 4-2 in Big Ten play, Michigan is right in the thick of things, but Purdue and (what?) Ohio State are both undefeated in league play and tied for 1st place. They played both Purdue and MSU tough, and if they continue to play that well, they’ll finish in the top half of the Big Ten standings.

Predicted Win Total

Michigan won a “Should Lose” game and lost a “Toss Up” game. They’re at 15 wins, with 12 games left. If they can split those, that would be 6 more wins, so I’m moving the Predicted Win Total up one game.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 20

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

4

11/20/2017

16

5

11/27/2017

16

6

12/04/2017

16

7

12/11/2017

16

8

12/18/2017

18

9

12/25/2017

18

10

01/01/2018

18

11

01/08/2018

19

12

01/15/2018

20

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays three games, all in the Big Ten. On Monday (01/15/2018, 6:30 p.m., FS1), Michigan plays Maryland in Crisler Arena, on Thursday (01/18/2018, 9:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Nebraska, then on Sunday (01/21/2018, 12:00 p.m., BTN), they play Rutgers in Crisler Arena. Combined with the MSU game on 01/13/2018, that’s 4 games in 8 days.

Maryland is currently 14-5 (3-3 in the Big Ten). They don’t have any impressive wins, and their only embarrassing loss was to St. Bonaventure. Michigan should win this game, but it could be tricky.

Nebraska is currently 12-7 (3-3 in the Big Ten). They’ve got a few impressive wins (Minnesota, Northwestern, and Wisconsin), and a few unimpressive losses (St. John’s, UCF, and Penn State). It’s always tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, and I expect this game to be a tough one.

Rutgers is currently 11-8 (1-5 in the Big Ten). They’ve got a couple impressive wins (#15 Seton Hall and Wisconsin), and a couple embarrassing losses (Stony Brook and Hartford). After a few years as the doormat of the Big Ten, Rutgers is moving up in the standings a little. They aren’t the automatic win they used to be. They took MSU to overtime in Breslin last week before losing. I expect Michigan to beat them, especially in Crisler, but it won’t be as easy as it used to be.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!