Nothing But ‘Net – Week #18 – 02/26/2018 – Ruining Other People’s Senior Nights

Quick Look

The (#17) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Wednesday (02/21/2018), they won at Penn State 72-63, then on Saturday (02/24/2018), they won at Maryland 85-61. The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 24-7 (13-5 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

Two weeks ago (Sunday 02/18/2018), Michigan held their Senior Day, and beat Ohio State. Last week, Michigan was the visiting team for two more Senior Day/Night ceremonies, and they ruined both of them. They beat Penn State convincingly, and they absolutely destroyed Maryland. These were Michigan’s final two games of the regular season, and they were very encouraging. Michigan ended the Big Ten regular season in 4th place, tied with Nebraska. Since Nebraska won the head-to-head matchup, they’ll get the #4 seed (and double bye) in the Big Ten Tournament, and Michigan will be the #5 seed. The 13 wins and #5 seed are all big improvements on last season’s results (10 wins and the #8 seed). Michigan also had a winning record (5-4) on the road in conference play this season, which is a significant accomplishment.

Instead of their traditional slow start, Michigan actually jumped out to a small early lead (5-0) in the first 90 seconds of the PSU game. PSU went on a quick 7-0 run, and took the lead (7-5) with 14:29 to go in the 1st half. Michigan quickly took the lead back (8-7), and led for the rest of the half, by as many as 13 points (30-17). They led by 8 points (34-26) at halftime, and it looked like they had the game under control. Wrong. PSU came out from halftime on fire, and they rattled off a 15-4 run to take the lead again (41-38) with 14:30 left in the game. Michigan didn’t wilt under pressure, and they got the lead back (44-43) with 12:04 to go. They never trailed again. The game was tied once (46-46), then Michigan pulled away, and kept the lead in the 7-9 point range for the rest of the game. They fended off every PSU run, and made 9 of their 10 free throws on intentional fouls in the last minute to seal the game.

Michigan had another slow start against Maryland, but didn’t fall too far behind. Maryland led 4-0 and 6-3 before Michigan got things straightened out. The teams traded baskets, and the lead went back and forth, until it was tied (12-12) with 12:46 left in the 1st half. That’s when Michigan went on a beautiful 8-0 run to get a solid lead (20-12) that they never surrendered. They pushed the lead as high as 30 points (54-24) in the 1st half, right at the halftime buzzer, and momentarily pushed it to 32 points at the start of the 2nd half. That was all the lead that Michigan needed. They toyed with Maryland for the entire 2nd half, and kept the lead in the 20’s, except for a brief period when Maryland got within 19 points (73-54) with 5:37 to go. That was way too little too late, and Michigan closed the game out easily.

Stats

The stats for the PSU game are pretty good. Michigan shot decently overall (23-for-51 = 45.1%), they shot 3-pointers very well (10-for-21 = 47.6%), and they shot free throws very well (16-for-19 = 84.2%). They (barely) won the rebounding battle (34-33), but they lost the turnover battle (12-10). When the 3-pointers are falling, this team looks gorgeous out there.

The stats for the Maryland game are very nice. Michigan shot very well overall (29-for-57 = 50.9%), they shot 3-pointers very well (15-for-31 = 48.4%), and they shot free throws pretty well (12-for-16 = 75.0%). They lost the rebounding battle (35-31), but they won the turnover battle (8-11). Once again, they hit their 3’s, and everything else fell into place.

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Isaiah Livers, Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner for both games.

None of the starters hit double figures in both games. Wagner was the only starter to hit double figures in the PSU game (18 points), but he only had 8 points vs. Maryland.

MAAR continued his recent hot streak with a good game and a great game. He almost hit double figures (9 points) vs. PSU, then he had a career-high 28 points vs. Maryland. Once again, he was Michigan’s leader in assists in both games, with 5 and 7.

Simpson also got close to double figures in both games, with 9 and 10 points. He did a very nice job running the offense, and he played some great defense in both games.

Jordan Poole was the only Michigan player to hit double figures in both games, with 13 and 12. He is fearless out there shooting 3-pointers, and he’s got a great attitude. He is lots of fun to watch.

Duncan Robinson was the star of the PSU game, with 19 points off the bench, including 3-for-6 shooting 3-pointers. He cooled down a little in the Maryland game, with 7 points on 2-for-4 shooting from 3-point range.

Jon Teske played 12 and 10 minutes, and didn’t score, but he contributed with rebounding and solid defense.

Jaaron Simmons played in both games, and didn’t do much vs. PSU, but he looked good scoring 7 points vs. Maryland.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Matthews finally broke out of his slump vs. Maryland, with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range). He was still in his slump in the PSU game, with 0 points (0-for-5 shooting).

Livers is also in a slump, and has been since he hurt his ankle in the game at Northwestern on 02/06/2018. He continues to start, but he only played 9 and 11 minutes this week, and he scored 2 and 0 points.

Who Else Played

Eli Brooks played in both games, and scored 2 and 0 points. The basket he made vs. PSU was his first basket since the Detroit-Mercy game on 12/16/2017.

Austin Davis played in the last minute of the Maryland game, and scored 2 points, for his first (and only) Big Ten basket. He hadn’t made a basket since the Alabama A&M game on 12/21/2017.

Ibi Watson played in the last minute of the Maryland game, and failed to score.

Who Didn’t Play

The practice squad players (C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) didn’t get into either game.

The Big Picture

Michigan is definitely a lock for the NCAA Tournament at this point. They chalked up two more big wins last week, and most bracket predictions have them as a #5 or #6 seed, up from a #8 or #9 seed last week. They can help their cause with a good showing in the Big Ten Tournament.

Predicted Win Total

With two more wins last week, Michigan has passed my Predicted Win Total from last week (23). They exceeded my expectations in the regular season. Let’s see how they do in the Big Ten Tournament and the Big Dance.

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

15

02/05/2018

21

16

02/12/2018

22

17

02/19/2018

23

What’s Next

Michigan plays in the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden in New York City this week, as the #5 seed. Their first game is on Thursday (03/01/2018, 2:30 p.m., BTN) vs. the winner of the game between the #12 seed (Iowa) and the #13 seed (Illinois), which will be played on Wednesday. Michigan beat Iowa twice, and Illinois the only time they played them, so they should be able to beat either one of them again. If they win that game, they’ll face the #4 seed (Nebraska) on Friday at 2:30 p.m. on BTN. The complete bracket is here.

Michigan won this tournament last season as a #8 seed, and they can win it again, but they have to play well every game. There are no easy games in the Big Ten Tournament. They have beaten most of the top teams in the regular season, except for Purdue, and they almost beat them, twice. The only team that beat Michigan convincingly was Nebraska, and Michigan can get another shot at them for some revenge.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #17 – 02/19/2018 – A Great Last Week At Home

Quick Look

The (#22) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Wednesday (02/14/2018), they beat Iowa 74-59 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (02/18/2018), they beat (#8) Ohio State 74-62, also in Crisler Arena. The 2 wins raise Michigan’s record to 22-7 (11-5 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

These two games were Michigan’s last two home games of this season, and they were a great way to finish the home schedule. Michigan ended up 15-1 at home this season, with the lone loss coming on a controversial (read: miserable) last-second call by a trio of inept Big Ten refs vs. Purdue. Michigan would have won that game with competent officiating, but 15-1 is still a great record.

Michigan was a strong favorite in the Iowa game, and they took care of business, but the game against OSU was a toss-up, and it was a solid, impressive victory.

The Iowa game started as so many UM games have this season: slowly. In less than two and half minutes, Michigan was already down 7-0, with one missed shot and three turnovers. Michigan finally got going, and went on a quick 12-4 run to take the lead, 12-11, with 14:53 left in the 1st half. Iowa got the lead back for the last time, 14-12, then it was all Michigan. They went ahead for good (17-14) at the 12:23 mark, and never trailed again. The Michigan lead got as high as 13 points (37-24) in the 1st half, right at halftime, and as high as 18 points (66-48) with 5:33 left in the game. It was a solid, straightforward win over an overmatched opponent.

The OSU game was very exciting. It was Senior Day, and Crisler Arena was sold out. Other games have been officially listed as “sold out” (attendance = 12707), but this one had a butt in almost every seat. It was a good crowd, and one of the louder crowds in the last few years, and Michigan gave them something to be loud about. UM played hard and smart, they hustled and scrapped, and they controlled the game.

A few words about Andrew Dakich: after being on Michigan’s team for 4 years and redshirting his senior year, he graduated and went to Ohio State for his “grad transfer” year. While he was liked when he was at Michigan, the crowd wasn’t willing to forgive him for his poor choice in grad schools. They booed every single time his name was announced, and they booed every single time he touched the ball. They held their breath all 3 times he drove to the basket for what looked like a sure layup, and they cheered wildly all 3 times when he missed. He ended up with 0 points, 0 assists, 1 turnover, and 1 foul in 22 minutes. He certainly didn’t hurt Michigan.

Michigan managed to avoid their traditional slow start vs. OSU. There were 4 ties and 8 lead changes in the first 13 minutes, with neither team able to get more than 4 points ahead. Michigan finally grabbed the lead for good (20-18) with 7:15 to go in the 1st half, and never trailed again. The lead got as high as 8 points (33-25) with 1:09 to go in the 1st half, and UM led by 5 (33-28) at halftime. OSU got within 2 points a couple times early in the 2nd half (36-34 and 38-36), and they were only down by 3 (55-52) with 7:53 left in the game. That’s when Michigan went on a brilliant 10-1 run to put the game out of reach, 65-53 with 3:15 left. UM kept the lead in double digits the rest of the way, and won convincingly.

Stats

The stats for the Iowa game are decent, but nothing special. Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (28-for-67 = 41.8%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (12-for-33 = 36.4%), and they shot free throws poorly (6-for-12 = 50.0%). They tied in the rebounding battle (33-33), but they won the turnover battle handily (6-16). Those 10 extra possessions really helped, but it was 3-point shooting that won the game.

The stats for the OSU game are a little better. Michigan shot pretty well overall (25-for-52 = 48.1%), they shot 3-pointers decently (7-for-20 = 35.0%), and they shot free throws well enough (17-for-24 = 70.8%). They lost the rebounding battle badly (40-30), but they won the turnover battle convincingly (7-14). After losing a couple games at the free throw line, they won this one there. They outscored OSU 17-9 in free throws. If the refs are going to call 39 fouls (22 on OSU, 17 on UM), the team that makes their free throws is going to have a distinct advantage.

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Isaiah Livers, Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner for both games.

MAAR is closing out his Michigan career on a high note. He was the star (and high scorer for UM) in both games, with 18 and 17 points. He was also Michigan’s leader in assists in both games, with 7 and 3. He had a nice, solid game on his Senior Day.

Wagner also hit double figures in both games, with 14 and 12 points. He could have had more, but he was in foul trouble (4 fouls) in both games, only playing 24 and 23 minutes. His biggest contribution in the OSU game was when he knocked the ball away on defense, then got in the middle of a wild scrum at mid-court going for the loose ball. He didn’t get it, but he did get the crowd REALLY fired up. It was as loud as I’ve heard it in Crisler in years.

Simpson had a up-and-down week. He scored 0 points vs. Iowa, then had a great game (13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers) vs. OSU.

Duncan Robinson was the other star of the Iowa game, with 18 points, all from 3-pointers. He shot 6-for-8 from 3-point range, and singlehandedly pulled Iowa out of their zone defense. Of course, since he had a great game vs. Iowa, he had to have an “off” game vs. OSU: 4 points, all on free throws, 0-for-3 from the floor. Since it was his Senior Day, everyone was just waiting for him to start raining 3’s, but they wouldn’t drop for him.

Jordan Poole was yet another Michigan player who had an up-and-down week. He had 2 points (on free throws) vs. Iowa, then exploded for 15 points (on 4-for-5 shooting from 3-point range) vs. OSU. He really got the crowd fired up.

Jon Teske scored 4 and 5 points, and played very good defense. He’s getting more and more confident out there.

Jaaron Simmons did a nice job backing up Simpson at point guard, and scored 5 and 2 points. He was the 3rd active player honored on Senior Day.

He didn’t play, and he hasn’t played in 3 years, but the 4th senior honored on Senior Day was Austin Hatch. He dressed for the game, warmed up with the team, and was announced as a 6th player and captain when the starting lineup was introduced. He got a very warm, emotional ovation.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Matthews has been in a slump for several weeks, with occasional flashes of brilliance buried in long stretches of mediocrity. He manages to hit double figures every other game or so, but only on heavy shot volume. He did it again this week: 10 points (on 4-for-16 shooting) vs. Iowa, and 6 points vs. OSU. Still, he was Michigan’s leading rebounder in both games (8 and 7), and he played some good defense.

Livers had a quiet week: 3 and 0 points. He played some good defense, but he sure isn’t scoring.

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 either game.

The Big Picture

Michigan is pretty much a lock for the NCAA Tournament at this point. Now, they get a chance to improve their seeding. With their current resume, they would probably be an 8 or 9 seed, which means a probable 2nd round game against a #1 seed. They would like to climb up to a 5 or 6 seed, which leads to a more winnable 2nd round game. They have 2 games left in the regular season to improve their seeding.

Predicted Win Total

With 2 wins last week, Michigan has caught up to my Predicted Win Total from last week (22). They have 2 games left in the regular season, both on the road, and I expect them to win at least one of them, so I’m bumping up the Expected Win Total again.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 23

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

15

02/05/2018

21

16

02/12/2018

22

17

02/19/2018

23

What’s Next

Michigan plays 2 games this week, both on the road. These are Michigan’s last 2 games of the regular season. On Wednesday (02/21/2018, 7:00 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays at Penn State, then on Saturday (02/24/2018, 12:00 p.m., ESPN), Michigan plays at Maryland.

Each Big Ten team plays 18 conference games. The game vs. PSU will be Game #17 for Michigan this season, and it is the first and only time they play Penn State. Weird scheduling. Penn State is currently 19-10 (9-7 in the Big Ten), with 2 impressive wins (Ohio State, twice), and a few embarrassing home losses (Wisconsin, Rider, and Minnesota). UM can win this game, but they need to play their “A” game.

Michigan has already played Maryland once, back in mid-January, just 2 days after UM’s big emotional win at Michigan State. In that game, Michigan came out flat, fell behind, clawed their way back into the game, and won it by one point in the final seconds. Since that time, Maryland has gone 4-5, with no notable wins or losses. This is another game that Michigan can win, but they’ll need to play very well. Teams don’t like to lose on Senior Day.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #16 – 02/11/2018 – One Out Of Two Ain’t Bad

Quick Look

The (#20) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they lost one and won the other. On Tuesday (02/06/2018), they lost at Northwestern 61-52, then on Sunday (02/11/2018), they won at Wisconsin 83-72. The loss and the win leave Michigan with a record of 20-7 (9-5 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

The good news: Michigan managed to win one of their two road games last week. One out of two ain’t bad. The bad news: While any road win in the Big Ten is a good win, that doesn’t mean that any road loss is understandable or forgivable. While the win in Madison is a big deal, the loss in Evanston was extremely embarrassing. It was right up there with the loss at Nebraska a couple weeks ago as the worst loss of the season. Michigan appeared to have the game under control, and led for the entire 1st half, by as many as 10 points. They had a small lead at halftime (32-29), and held the lead until the 17:12 mark, when Northwestern went ahead for the first time, 35-33. Michigan never led again, falling behind by 10 points. They went stone cold, and let the game just slip away. Being held to 20 points in the 2nd half by Northwestern is disgraceful.

The win at Wisconsin is a big deal. The Kohl Center has been a “house of horrors” for Michigan, with only one previous win since 2000, in the 2013-2014 season. Sure, Wisconsin is way down this season, but they’re still tough at home, and they really wanted to beat Michigan. Unfortunately for them, Michigan started the game hot, built a big lead, and managed to protect it down the stretch. UM never trailed, and led by 22 at halftime (44-22). They built the lead up to 25 points (53-28) at the 14:50 mark, and still led by 23 points (58-35) with 12:15 to go. That looked like an insurmountable lead, until Wisconsin went on a 12-0 run in just over 3 minutes to cut the lead to 11 points (58-47) with 8:52 left. The rest of the way, Michigan kept the lead in the 10-12 point range, but Wisconsin got as close as 7 points (79-72) with 39 seconds left, before Michigan put the game away with a 4-0 run.

Stats

The stats for the Northwestern game are horrible. Michigan shot terribly overall (17-for-44 = 38.6%), they shot 3-pointers terribly (5-for-22 = 22.7%), but they did shoot free throws reasonably well (13-for-19 = 68.4%). They were out-rebounded by Northwestern, again (32-27), and they lost the turnover battle (9-6). Only hitting five 3-pointers is disgraceful. It was just plain embarrassing.

The stats for the Wisconsin game are much better. Michigan shot well overall (28-for-50 = 56.0%), they shot 3-pointers well (9-for-20 = 45.0%), and they shot free throws pretty well (18-for-24 = 75.0%). They crushed Wisconsin on the boards (33-23), and they tied in the turnover battle (8-8). Michigan won this game with 3-point shooting.

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Isaiah Livers, Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner for the Northwestern game, with Duncan Robinson starting in place of Livers for the Wisconsin game, after Livers injured his foot/ankle early in the Northwestern game.

Wagner was the star of both games. He averaged a double-double, with 20 points in each game and 9 and 11 rebounds. He was pretty efficient shooting (7-for-10 and 8-for-14), including 3-for-6 shooting 3-pointers in the Wisconsin game.

The only other Michigan player who hit double figures in both games was MAAR, with 11 and 15 points.

Robinson had a good game vs. Wisconsin (16 points), but was one of many Michigan players who had a miserable game vs. Northwestern (3 points). He hit 4-for-7 shooting 3-pointers vs. Wisconsin.

Matthews was the only other player to hit double figures in one game this week, with 11 points vs. Wisconsin. He had 5 points vs. Northwestern.

Simpson didn’t score much (6 and 4 points), but he did lead Michigan in assists in both games, with 5 and 6.

Jordan Poole provided some “instant offense” off the bench, with 5 and 8 points. He didn’t shoot well in the Northwestern game (1-for-6), but he did a little better vs. Wisconsin (2-for-4).

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Jon Teske had a quiet week: 0 and 4 points. He did a decent job spelling Wagner.

Eli Brooks played in the Northwestern game, but didn’t take a shot. He didn’t play in the Wisconsin game.

Jaaron Simmons didn’t play in the Northwestern game, but he did play in the Wisconsin game, and scored 3 points.

Ibi Watson played in both games, and scored 0 and 2 points.

Who Else Played

Livers only played 2 minutes, and scored 2 points, in the Northwestern game before he got injured. He didn’t play in the Wisconsin game.

Austin Davis played in the Wisconsin game (0 points) but not in the Northwestern game.

Who Didn’t Play

The practice squad players (C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) didn’t get into either game.

The Big Picture

It was a weird week, with one of the worst games this season (Northwestern) and one of the biggest road victories in a while (Wisconsin). At this point, Michigan is solidly in the NCAA Tournament, but they have to win a few more games to sew it up.

Predicted Win Total

The Northwestern game was a “toss up” game, but the Wisconsin game was a “should lose” game, so I’m bumping up the Predicted Win Total.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 22

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

15

02/05/2018

21

16

02/12/2018

22

What’s Next

Michigan plays 2 games this week, both at home. On Wednesday (02/14/2018, 6:30 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Iowa, then on Sunday (02/18/2018, 1:00 p.m., CBS), they play (#13) Ohio State.

Think way back; Michigan played at Iowa way back in early January (01/02/2018), and beat them 75-68. Since then, Iowa hasn’t done much. They’re currently 12-15 (3-11 in the Big Ten), with wins over Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and losses to everyone else. Michigan should be able to win this one, as long as they play a solid game.

Think even further back; Michigan played at Ohio State way back in early December (12/04/2017), and lost to them 71-62. Since then, OSU has been the biggest surprise in the Big Ten in the last 20 years. They were predicted to come in last in the Big Ten, and they are currently all alone in 1st place (13-1 in the league, 22-5 overall). Their only Big Ten loss was at home vs. Penn State, and they’ve beaten all the other contenders (Michigan State, Purdue, and Nebraska), and everyone else. This will be a tough game for Michigan, but they can beat OSU. They’ll need to play a flawless game, but they can do it. It’ll be Senior Day, so there will be a lot of emotion.

OSU’s game vs. Michigan back in December was a turning point in their season. Michigan was up 20 points (43-23) with 1:31 left in the 1st half, and cruising to an easy win. That was the moment when OSU turned their season around. They finished the half with a 7-0 run, then started the 2nd half with a 19-3 run to take the lead. The game was tied 60-60 with 3:38 left, and OSU closed the game on an 11-2 run for the win. They haven’t looked back since.

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

Go Blue!