Nothing But ‘Net – Week #18 – 02/27/2017 – Two Big Wins

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Wednesday (02/22/2017), Michigan won at Rutgers 68-64, then on Saturday (02/25/2017), they beat (#14) Purdue 82-70 in Crisler Arena. The wins raise Michigan’s record to 19-10 (9-7 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

Obviously, the win over Purdue is bigger than the win over Rutgers, perhaps Michigan’s biggest win of the season, but don’t discount the value of a road win in the Big Ten, even over lowly Rutgers. They might have a poor record (13-16 overall, 2-14 in the Big Ten), but Rutgers has been in a lot of close games, even if they lose them. Regardless of the opponents, two wins in a week is a good week, and a road win and a win over a Top-15 opponent is a great week. This was a great week for Michigan.

The win at Rutgers was an ugly win, but it still counts as a win. Michigan led for most of the game (37 minutes, 13 seconds), but the game was very close at the end, with an exciting finish. UM jumped out to an early lead, 13-6, with 15:04 to go in the 1st half. They pushed it up to 9 points a couple times (18-9 and 20-11), put couldn’t pull away from Rutgers. They led by 7 at halftime (35-28), and finally got the lead up to double digits (43-33) with 16:05 to go in the game. That’s when it got scary. Rutgers went on a 19-8 run and got their first lead in a long time, 52-51 with 7:58 left. They increased it to 4 points (56-52) in the next minute, and it looked like the game was slipping away from Michigan, when they woke up, regained the lead (57-56 with 5:50 to go), and never trailed again. They built the lead back up to 6 points (62-56) with 3:48 left, and managed to make just enough baskets and free throws in “crunch time” to hang on for the win. It was scary, but a road win is a big win.

The Purdue game was much more pleasing. Michigan led the entire way, by as many as 22 points, and controlled the tempo of the game. They didn’t completely control Purdue’s star player (Caleb Swanigan), but they did manage to slow him down enough to win the game. The score was close for the first 10 minutes, with Michigan leading by 2 points (15-13). Over the next 5 and a half minutes, UM outscored Purdue 21-7 to lead by 16 (36-20) with 4:40 to go in the half. Purdue got back within 12 in the closing seconds of the half, but UM hit a 3-pointer with 1 second left, to go to halftime up 15, 45-30. Michigan kept Purdue at bay for most of the 2nd half, never letting them get any closer than 11 points until the last 2 minutes. With 11:08 left in the game, Purdue pulled within 11 points (53-42), and Michigan responded with a gorgeous 13-2 run, to put the game almost out of reach, 66-44 with 8:15 to go. Purdue fought back, and got within 6 points (73-67) with 2:14 to go, but Michigan hit some key baskets, made their free throws, and got their stops, and earned the big victory.

The stats for the Rutgers game are pretty unimpressive. Michigan shot poorly overall (22-for-54 = 40.7%), they shot 3-pointers reasonably well (10-for-31 = 32.3%), but they shot free throws poorly again (14-for-23 = 60.9%). Surprisingly, Michigan won the rebounding battle (40-33), but lost the turnover battle (11-7). Michigan won the game shooting 3-pointers better than Rutgers, and controlling the boards.

The stats for the Purdue game are much better. Michigan shot the ball well overall (30-for-55 = 54.5%), they shot 3-pointers well (11-for-26 = 42.3%), and they were perfect shooting free throws (11-for-11 = 100.0%). They lost the rebounding battle (31-24), but they won the turnover battle (9-11). Once again, Michigan won the game shooting 3-pointers better than their opponent.

Who Looked Good

Derrick Walton Jr. hit double figures in both games this week (13 and 17 points), and he also had 5 rebounds vs. Rutgers, and 11 vs. Purdue, for a double-double on Senior Night.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman also hit double figures in both games (14 and 10). Once again, he connected on several fearless drives to the hoop in heavy traffic.

Moritz Wagner had a decent game at Rutgers, with 8 points, but he had a monster 1st half vs. Purdue, with 22 points at halftime. He only scored 2 more points in the 2nd half, but his huge 1st half staked Michigan to the comfortable lead that they kept for most of the 2nd half.

Zak Irvin had a pretty good game at Rutgers, with 16 points, but he had a lousy Senior Night vs. Purdue, with only 4 points. He did play some good defense in both games.

DJ Wilson almost hit double figures in both games, with 10 and 9 points. He played some great defense against Purdue, which really helped.

Duncan Robinson only had 3 points vs. Rutgers, but he had 11 big points in the Purdue win. His defense is improving.

Xavier Simpson was scoreless in the Rutgers game, but he had 7 big points vs. Purdue.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Mark Donnal had a very quiet week, with 4 and 0 points.

Who Else Played

Sean Lonergan played in the last minute of the Purdue game, since he’s a senior. He didn’t score.

Who Didn’t Play

Brent Hibbitts, Jon Teske, Ibi Watson, and Fred Wright-Jones didn’t play this week.

The Big Picture

With 19 wins, and a couple marquee victories recently (Wisconsin and Purdue), Michigan is all but certain to make it to the NCAA Tournament. They can make it a certainty if they can win either of their last two regular season games, or their first round game in the Big Ten Tournament. Even if they lose all 3 of those games, they’re probably in the Big Dance.

What’s Next

This week is the final week of the regular season, and Michigan plays two games again, both on the road. On Wednesday (03/01/2017, 7:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Northwestern, then on Sunday (03/05/2017, 8:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Nebraska.

Michigan only plays Northwestern once this season, and it’s on the road. Northwestern is having their best season ever, and it looks like they are finally going to make it to the NCAA Tournament. They are the only “power conference” team to have never been to the Big Dance, but it looks like they’ll make it this year, finally. They are 20-9 overall, 9-7 in the Big Ten, tied with Michigan for 6th place in the league. They have some quality wins (Texas, Wake Forest, Indiana, and Wisconsin), and a couple unimpressive losses (Illinois, twice). This is a definite “toss up” game, but Michigan needs it more.

Michigan played Nebraska in Crisler Arena way back on 01/14/2017, when UM won 91-85. Since then, Nebraska has gone 3-7, with a win over Purdue, and losses to Ohio State and Rutgers. They are currently 12-15 overall, 6-9 in the Big Ten. This is also a “toss up” game.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #17 – 02/20/2017 – Big Win, Ugly Loss

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won one and lost the other. On Thursday (02/16/2017), Michigan beat (#11) Wisconsin 64-58 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (02/19/2017), they lost at Minnesota 83-78, in overtime. The win and the loss leave Michigan with a record of 17-10 (7-7 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

As impressive as the win over Wisconsin was, the loss to Minnesota was just as unimpressive. Michigan played tough, smart basketball vs. Wisconsin, and they played miserable, mistake-ridden basketball vs. Minnesota. They deserved to win the Wisconsin game, and they deserved to lose the Minnesota game. Michigan has had a tough time playing with any composure on the road, except for the one win at Indiana.

The Wisconsin game was very exciting. Neither team ever got more than 9 points ahead, and it came right down to the last minute. After winning both games (MSU and Indiana) 2 weeks ago without ever trailing, Michigan started the Wisconsin game with an early 8-2 lead, and stayed ahead until the 12:17 mark, when Wisconsin went ahead 11-10. The lead went back and forth, with Wisconsin leading by 1 point (31-30) at halftime. The first 2 and a half minutes of the 2nd half were a disaster. Wisconsin went on a 7-0 run, to push the lead up to 8 points (38-30), and it looked like the game was about to slip away, but Michigan didn’t give up. They fought back hard, and managed to tie the game up (42-42) with 12:12 left. It was still tied (47-47) with 7:53 to go, when Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit a huge 3-pointer from the corner and was fouled, giving him a rare 4-point play. Wisconsin never got any closer than 4 points the rest of the game.

The Minnesota game was depressing. Michigan played from behind almost the entire game, and whenever they did manage to scratch out a small lead, they gave it back quickly. Foul trouble and turnovers hurt them all game, and the stretches of cold shooting came at just the wrong times. This was a “momentum” game, and Michigan kept giving Minnesota the momentum, which kept the crowd in it. The game was close the whole way, with neither team ever getting a double-digit lead. Minnesota led by 2 at halftime (29-27), and it looked like they were going to win in regulation when they were up 8 points (68-60) with only 2:54 left in the game. They were still up 6 points (70-64) with 1:17 left, when Michigan went on an 8-2 run to end the half, and tie it up. The big shot was a long 3-pointer by DJ Wilson with 2 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. Overtime didn’t go well, and a winnable game was lost.

The big story in the Minnesota game was lousy officiating, and too much of it. Which team was better? We’ll never know, since the refs took over and made it about them. Minnesota shot an incredible 41 free throws! The worst segment was when they called a phantom foul on Derrick Walton Jr., then “TV” Teddy Valentine just stared at the Michigan bench, hoping for a reaction he could call a technical on. He got it, and called a tech on the bench from 40 feet away. It was another “momentum” moment.

The stats for the Wisconsin game are decent. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (23-for-50 = 46.0%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (9-for-23 = 39.1%), and they didn’t shoot free throws very well (9-for-13 = 69.2%). They lost the rebounding battle (35-29), but they (barely) won the turnover battle (10-11). The big difference in this game was that UM made 9 3-pointers, and Wisconsin only made 3 (on 16 attempts).

The stats for the Minnesota game are ugly. Overall shooting was pretty good (30-for-60 = 50.0%), but 3-point shooting was bad (9-for-26 = 34.6%), and free throw shooting was absolutely terrible (9-for-18 = 50.0%). Michigan got hammered on the boards (44-31), but they did (barely) win the turnover battle (9-11). The game was lost at the free throw line. Michigan came into the game as the #1 team in the nation at free throw percentage.

Who Looked Good

Moritz Wagner played hard in both games, with 21 and 15 points. He had foul trouble in the poorly-called Minnesota game, which limited his effectiveness.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 12 and 14 points, many on fearless drives into heavy traffic.

Zak Irvin finally broke out of his slump. He didn’t have a great week, but he did finally score some points: 18 vs. Wisconsin and 10 vs. Minnesota.

Derrick Walton Jr. had a mediocre game vs. Wisconsin (5 points), but bounced back with 16 points vs. Minnesota. He was uncharacteristically bad shooting free throws (1-for-4) vs. Minnesota.

DJ Wilson also had a weak game vs. Wisconsin (2 points), and bounced back vs. Minnesota (16 points).

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Duncan Robinson had a quiet week, with 6 and 5 points.

Xavier Simpson played in both games, but failed to score.

Mark Donnal had a very quiet week, with 0 and 2 points. He did play some good defense, and gave Wagner a long rest in the Wisconsin game.

Jon Teske played for 2 minutes in the Wisconsin game, and it was a disaster. The Wisconsin big men went right at him, and he was helpless. He didn’t play in the Minnesota game.

Who Else Played

No one else played this week. They were both tight games, and Coach Beilein stuck to a short bench.

Who Didn’t Play

Brent Hibbitts, Sean Lonergan, Ibi Watson, and Fred Wright-Jones didn’t play this week.

The Big Picture

The win over Wisconsin really helped Michigan’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament, and their loss at Minnesota hurt those chances a little. Michigan can still solidify their spot in the Big Dance with 2 more wins in the last 4 games, and one win in the Big Ten Tournament. Unfortunately, 3 of those 4 regular season games are on the road, where UM has had a rough time.

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games again, one on the road and one in Crisler. On Wednesday (02/22/2017, 6:30 p.m., BTN), they play at Rutgers, then on Saturday (02/25/2017, 4:00 p.m., ESPN2), they play (#16) Purdue in Crisler.

Michigan only plays Rutgers once this season, and it’s on the road. Rutgers is still the worst team in the Big Ten, but they’re getting better. They are currently 13-15 overall, but only 2-13 in Big Ten play. They haven’t beaten anybody good, and all their losses are predictable. Given Michigan’s poor play on the road, I expect a nailbiter.

This is also the only time Michigan plays Purdue this season. Purdue is currently 22-5 overall, 11-3 in the Big Ten. They are tied for 1st place in the league. They have some impressive wins (Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan State [twice], and Maryland), and a couple puzzling losses (Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska). They are tall and talented, but they are beatable. It’s Senior Night for Michigan, and they’d sure like to send the seniors out with a big upset.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #16 – 02/13/2017 – Back From The Brink

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Tuesday (02/07/2017), Michigan thrashed Michigan State 86-57 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (02/12/2017), they beat Indiana 75-63 in Bloomington. The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 16-9 (6-6 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

This is easily the best week that Michigan has had this season, even better than the big wins in the 2K Classic in November. They played two of their biggest rivals, and they beat them both handily. The win over MSU was a total beat-down, with not even a hint of a moral victory for MSU. They were exposed on national TV (ESPN). The win at IU was almost bigger, since Michigan had lost 17 of the last 18 games in Assembly Hall, and hadn’t won a true road game this season. The two wins pull Michigan back from the brink, and put them squarely on the right side of the NCAA bubble. They still need to win 4 of their last 6 games, with all of them either on the road or against the top teams in the Big Ten, but Michigan has momentum now, and they’re finally playing some defense to go with their high-powered offense.

Question: where has this team been up until now?  I’m glad they finally showed up, but it would have been nice if they had shown up a month ago.

Michigan never trailed in either game, which is pretty impressive, and they opened up some nice leads along the way. In the MSU game, the game was close for the first 11 minutes (23-19 with 9:11 left), then UM started to pull away. They started hitting 3-pointers, and grew the lead from 4 to 16 points in less than 3 minutes (35-19 with 6:26 to go in the 1st half). They got the lead up to 20 points (47-27) with 1:49 left, then went on a nice 6-0 run to end the half, up 26 points (55-29). Michigan opened the 2nd half with 2 quick baskets to make it a 30 point lead (59-29) with 18:50 to go, and forced MSU into a timeout just 1:10 into the half. UM held the Feisty Farmers at arm’s length the rest of the game, never letting the lead down below 20 points. The Crisler Arena crowd had a great time chanting “Little Brother!” and “Just Like Football!” It was a great win. MSU’s “pain in the butt” head coach, Tom Izzo, actually sat down and shut up for the last 5 minutes!

Back on 01/26/2017, Michigan throttled Indiana in Crisler Arena, 90-60, so IU was out for revenge. Once again, the game was close in the early going, with UM only up by 3 points (14-11) with 12:09 to go in the 1st half. The 3-pointers started falling, and Michigan stretched the lead to 13 points (33-20) with 4:01 left in the half. UM went cold at that point, and didn’t score again until the 17:40 mark in the 2nd half, almost 6 and a half minutes. Fortunately, IU didn’t score much either, and UM still had an 8-point lead (35-27). Michigan got the lead back up to 13 points again (56-43) with 8:30 left in the game, then again with 4:58 left. They managed the end of the game very well, hitting their free throws, and won by 12. It was a good, solid win.

The stats for the MSU game are very impressive. Michigan shot very well overall (32-for-53 = 60.4%), they shot 3-pointers very well (10-for-21 = 47.6%), and they shot free throws very well (12-for-14 = 85.7%). They lost the rebounding battle (26-22), but they won the turnover battle handily (8-21). Michigan dominated everywhere but on the boards, and crushed MSU.

The stats for the IU game are not nearly as impressive, but they’re good enough for a Michigan victory. Michigan shot fairly well overall (26-for-55 = 47.3%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (8-for-22 = 36.4%), and they shot free throws very well (15-for-19 = 78.9%). They lost the rebounding battle (32-29), but they won the turnover battle (8-15). Those extra 7 possessions really helped.

Who Looked Good

Derrick Walton Jr. continued his recent streak of great games with 2 more. He was the high scorer for Michigan in both games, with 20 and 25 points. He went 9-for-9 from the free throw line vs. IU, to help seal the win.

Moritz Wagner had a great week, with 19 and 11 points. He also had 10 rebounds vs. IU, for his first career double-double. He did foul out of the IU game in the last minute, but by then the result was no longer in doubt. He could have had another 10 points vs. IU if he had dunked the ball instead of laying it up for 5 missed layups.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had a good week, even if he only hit double figures once, in the MSU game. He had 16 big points vs. MSU, and 7 vs. IU.

DJ Wilson had a rough game vs. MSU, with only 6 points in 22 minutes of action, but he bounced back nicely with 13 points and 35 minutes vs. IU.

Duncan Robinson had a good week, with 10 and 8 points. His defense was also improved.

Xavier Simpson finally figured things out in the MSU game, and played his best game so far. He finally took a few shots, and made most of them, for 7 points on 3-for-4 shooting. He also had a rebound and 2 assists. It was great to see him contribute. He scored 2 more points, and had 2 more assists, in the IU game.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Zak Irvin is almost completely worthless out there anymore. He is in a major slump, but he keeps on shooting, and missing. In his last 4 games, here’s how he has shot:

  • At Michigan State: 0-for-8 (0-for-2 from 3-point range)
  • Ohio State: 2-for-10 (1-for-6)
  • Michigan State: 1-for-5 (1-for-2)
  • At Indiana: 1-for-8 (0-for-5)

That adds up to 4-for-31 (12.9%) overall, 2-for-15 (13.3%) from 3-point range.

Mark Donnal had a quiet week, with 3 and 4 points.

Who Else Played

Brent Hibbitts, Sean Lonergan, Jon Teske, Ibi Watson, and Fred Wright-Jones all played in the MSU blowout, and Wright-Jones actually scored (2 free throws). Lonergan, Teske, and Watson played in the last minute of the IU game, but didn’t score.

Who Didn’t Play

Everyone got to play in (at least) the MSU massacre.

The Big Picture

Remember what I said last week about the NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament? Not so fast! Michigan still has some tough games to win, but they control their own destiny. If they keep playing like they did last week, they stand a fighting chance in all 6 of their remaining regular season games.

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games again, one in Crisler and one on the road. On Thursday (02/16/2017, 7:00 p.m., ESPN), they play (#7) Wisconsin in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (02/19/2017, 7:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Minnesota.

Michigan played at Wisconsin about a month ago (01/17/2017), and they put up a good fight in an extremely hostile environment. Wisconsin won 68-64, but Michigan was up by 6 points (49-43) with 6:29 left in the game, before they fell apart at the end. Michigan can beat them in Crisler Arena, but they need to play the way they did against IU twice and MSU once, not the way they played against Ohio State. This will be a tough game, but it’s winnable.

This is the only time Michigan plays Minnesota this season. Minnesota is 18-7 overall, 6-6 in the Big Ten, with only one impressive win (Purdue), and a couple not-so-hot losses (Penn State and Ohio State). They’re pretty tough at home (13-3), but not unbeatable. This will also be a tough game.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #15 – 02/06/2017 – Season On The Brink

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team only played one game last week, and they lost it. On Saturday (02/04/2017), Michigan lost to Ohio State 70-66 in Crisler Arena. The loss drops Michigan’s record to 14-9 (4-6 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

This was a “must win” game for Michigan, and they didn’t win it, so their season in now officially “on the brink”. They have 8 games left, and they need to win 6 of them to stand a chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, the OSU game was probably the most winnable of their remaining games, and they couldn’t win it. I’m afraid we’re looking at an NIT bid this season.

Michigan started the OSU game strong, then slowly let the game get away from them. They had an 11-point lead (19-8) with 14:03 left in the 1st half; 90 seconds later, the lead was down for 3 points (19-16). UM managed to push the lead back up to 8 points (30-22) with 5:17 left in the half, then they fell apart. They let OSU go on a 14-5 run to lead by 1 point at halftime, 36-35.

OSU started pulling away in the 2nd half, but Michigan had one last surge left in them. OSU led by 8 (47-39) with 14:46 left in the game, before UM came back to within 2 points (49-47) with 11:41 to go. OSU pushed the lead back up to 8 (58-50) with 7:07 left, then UM got it tied up (60-60) with 4:23 to go. It was tied up again (63-63) with 2:23 left, but OSU made their free throws, and Michigan missed their shots, and Michigan let another winnable game slip away.

The stats are miserable. Michigan shot poorly overall (19-for-51 = 37.3%), they shot 3-pointers poorly (13-for-35 = 37.1%), but they did shoot free throws well (15-for-18 = 83.3%). They were absolutely hammered on the boards (42-24), but they did win the turnover battle (12-16). The main reason they lost was rebounding, especially offensive rebounding. OSU had a whopping 16 offensive rebounds. It was terrible.

Who Looked Good

Derrick Walton Jr. has been on a tear lately, and he was one of the few bright spots in a dismal game. He scored 25 points, including 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range. He also had 10 rebounds, for another double-double. He needs more help.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman did his best, and it was pretty good, but it wasn’t enough. He scored 12 points, and had 7 rebounds. He played hard.

DJ Wilson was the only other Michigan player in double figures, with 11 points. He had one rebound. Think about that: 2 of Michigan’s guards combined for 17 rebounds, Wilson had one.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Moritz Wagner couldn’t stay on the floor. He fouled out in only 22 minutes, after scoring 5 points in the 1st half, and 0 points in the 2nd half. He also had exactly one rebound.

Zak Irvin did a little better than his last game (0 points vs. MSU, when he was sick with the flu), but not much. He scored 5 points in the first 5 minutes, then was held scoreless the rest of the game. He shot 2-for-10 (1-for-6 from 3-point range), and had as many turnovers (3) as rebounds (3).

Duncan Robinson almost hit double figures (8 points), on 2-for-6 shooting, all from 3-point range. He had a rough time on defense.

Mark Donnal had to play a lot more than usual, since Wagner was in foul trouble for most of the game. He responded with 0 points and one rebound.

Xavier Simpson played for 4 minutes, didn’t attempt a shot, didn’t get a rebound, but did get 2 steals.

Who Else Played

No one else played.

Who Didn’t Play

Brent Hibbitts, Sean Lonergan, Jon Teske, Ibi Watson, and Fred Wright-Jones didn’t play.

The Big Picture

The bubble has popped. It would take a minor miracle for Michigan to make it to the NCAA Tournament now. They should just worry about staying above 0.500 so they can go to the NIT.

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games again, one in Crisler and one on the road. On Tuesday (02/07/2017, 9:00 p.m., ESPN), they play Michigan State in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (02/12/2017, 1:00 p.m., CBS), they play at Indiana.

Michigan just played MSU 2 weeks ago (Sunday 01/29/2017) in East Lansing, and almost pulled off the road upset. This is another “toss up” game, and it is a game that Michigan needs to win if they want to salvage anything from this season.

Michigan also played Indiana 2 weeks ago (Thursday 01/26/2017) in Crisler Arena, and thrashed them soundly. If they could beat IU by 30 points (90-60) at home, they should be able to beat them by at least one point on the road, but Michigan still hasn’t won a true road game this season, so expect another nail-biter.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #14 – 01/30/2017 – Another Week, Another Split

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won one and lost the other. On Thursday (01/26/2017), Michigan beat Indiana 90-60 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/29/2017), they lost at Michigan State 70-62. The win and the loss

leave Michigan with a record of 14-8 (4-5 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

This is the 5th week in a row where Michigan has won one game and lost the other, but this week included a huge win and a rivalry loss. Look at that score again from the IU game: 90-60. The game wasn’t even that close. Unfortunately, Michigan couldn’t keep the momentum from the IU game going vs. MSU. When UM is hitting their 3-pointers, everything else falls into place, and they look great. When they are cold from 3-point range, everything else falls apart, and they look terrible. That’s what happened this week.

Michigan started hot vs. IU, and never cooled off. The won both halves by 15 points (50-35 and 40-25), and they never let IU even get close for the entire 2nd half. It was very impressive.

On the other hand, Michigan never got hot vs. MSU, and the game was close most of the time. Michigan actually led by one point (40-39) with 14:53 to go in the 2nd half, before MSU went on a 12-2 run to give them a lead they never gave up. Even though they were playing from behind for most of the 2nd half, UM stayed close, and actually got within 4 points (66-62) in the final minute, but could get no closer.

Let’s look at the stats. In the IU game, Michigan shot very well overall (31-for-49 = 63.3%), they shot 3-pointers very well (11-for-20 = 55.0%), and they shot free throws well enough (17-for-24 = 70.8%). They won the rebounding battle (23-20) and the turnover battle (6-16). It was total domination.

The stats for the MSU game aren’t nearly as pretty. Michigan shot very poorly overall (19-for-56 = 33.9%), they shot 3-pointers terribly (7-for-26 = 26.9%), but they did shoot free throws well (17-for-19 = 89.5%). Michigan actually won the rebounding battle, barely (33-32), but they uncharacteristically lost the turnover battle (13-11). All those turnovers, combined with anemic 3-point shooting, cost Michigan the game.

Who Looked Good

Michigan had 6 players, including all 5 starters, in double figures for the IU game, but only 2 players in double figures for the MSU game.

Derrick Walton Jr. was Michigan’s leading scorer in both games, with 21 and 24 points. He hit 14 of 15 free throws vs. MSU, and almost had a double-double, with 9 rebounds (3 offensive). He had a great week.

Moritz Wagner was the only other Michigan player to hit double figures in both games, with 14 and 10. On the downside, he had 4 fouls and 4 bad turnovers vs. MSU.

DJ Wilson had a solid game against IU, with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots, but he had a tougher time against MSU, with only 8 points.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 12 points vs. IU, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and he played great defense. He had a quiet game (5 points) vs. MSU, and had a tougher time on defense.

Duncan Robinson had 13 and 8 points, and did a decent job on defense for a change.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Zak Irvin may have had 12 points vs. IU, but he almost single-handedly cost Michigan the MSU game, with 0 points on 0-for-8 shooting. He also had 3 turnovers vs. MSU. Ugh.

Mark Donnal had a quiet week, with 3 and 7 points.

Xavier Simpson played in both games, and scored 2 points (on free throws) vs. IU. He was scoreless vs. MSU. When he’s out there, Michigan is essentially playing 4-on-5 on offense, since he refuses to shoot.

Who Else Played

Jon Teske played in both games, but failed to score.

Ibi Watson played in both games, and scored 2 points (on free throws) vs. IU. He was scoreless vs. MSU. He still looks lost out there.

Fred Wright-Jones played in the MSU game, but failed to score.

Brent Hibbitts played in the IU game, but failed to score.

Sean Lonergan played in the IU game, but failed to score.

Who Didn’t Play

Everyone played in at least one of the games this week.

The Big Picture

Michigan is still “on the bubble” for an NCAA Tournament bid. They need to win 6 of their remaining 9 Big Ten games to stand a decent chance. They need to do better than a split every week.

What’s Next

This week Michigan only plays one game, at home. On Saturday (02/04/2017, 6:00 p.m., ESPN2), Michigan plays Ohio State in Crisler Arena. This is another “toss up” game.

OSU is currently 13-9 overall, 3-6 in the Big Ten. They did beat MSU in Columbus, but they have also lost to Florida Atlantic. The rest of their wins and losses are all predictable.

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

Go Blue!