The (#2) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Tuesday (12/11/2012), they beat Binghamton 67-39 in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (12/15/2012), they beat West Virginia 81-66 in the Barclays Center, in New York City, which is the new home of the Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets) of the NBA. The two wins raise UM’s record to 11-0.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen that Michigan’s ranking has slowly but steadily moved up all season. They started the year ranked #5, and as teams ahead of them have lost, they’ve moved up to #4 and #3, and this week to #2. All season long, Indiana has been ranked #1, and for several weeks now, Duke has been #2, with UM at #3. Well, Indiana lost to Butler in overtime on Saturday, so Duke moved up to #1, and Michigan is now #2. This is the highest ranking that Michigan has had in a long time, and the 11-0 start is the best start UM has had since that magical season (1988-1989) when they won the National Championship. These are exciting times.
So, why are the Wolverines “the Kings of New York City”? Well, over Thanksgiving weekend they won the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament in Madison Square Garden, and this weekend they won their game in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival in Brooklyn. They’re doing pretty well in NYC.
The Binghamton game was just a joke. It was more like a controlled scrimmage. Binghamton stood no chance, and the only interesting aspect was seeing how sharp (or not) Michigan would look against an overmatched opponent. The answer: meh. They took care of business, but didn’t look fabulous. The WVU game was a much better test. Even though West Virginia doesn’t have a very good record this season (now 4-5), they were scrappy and relentless, and they gave Michigan a good run for their money. Even though the final margin of victory (15 points) looks pretty convincing, WVU made the game interesting a couple times in both halves. Michigan had to play hard and well to beat them.
Stats time! First, the Binghamton scrimmage: Michigan didn’t shoot particularly well overall (27-for-61 = 44.3%), and they didn’t very well from 3-point range (10-for-30 = 33.3%). They didn’t get to the free-throw line much, and they didn’t shoot very well when they got there (3-for-5 = 60.0%). They did win the rebounding battle (39-28) and the turnover battle (7-16). They won the game with all those extra possessions.
The stats for the WVU game are a little better: Michigan shot better overall (26-for-50 = 56.0%), and OK from 3-point range (7-for-21 = 33.3%). There were a lot of fouls in the game, and WVU shot a sizzling 83.3% (20-for-24) from the free-throw line, but UM didn’t do quite as well (18-for-27 = 66.7%). Michigan did win the rebounding battle (32-29), but they lost the turnover battle (14-13). They won the game because they held WVU to 38.5% (20-for-52) overall shooting.
Individually, two players hit double figures in both games:
- Trey Burke (19 vs. Binghamton and 27 vs. WVU). Trey has hit double figures in every game this season. He’s averaging 18.0 points/game.
- Nik Stauskas (12 and 10). Nik has hit double figures in every game this season except the opener (Slippery Rock). He’s averaging 13.2 points/game.
One other player came close to double figures in both games:
- Tim Hardaway Jr. (9 and 25). Tim did a lot better shooting from 3-point range this week: 2-for-9 and 4-for-8.
The other two starters did OK this week:
- Jordan Morgan (6 and 8). Jordan was unusually quiet on the boards this week, with only 2 rebounds in each game.
- Glenn Robinson III (6 and 8).
Besides the starters (and McGary), the bench chipped in a little scoring:
- Mitch McGary (6 and 2). Mitch had a career-high 10 rebounds in the Binghamton game.
- Spike Albrecht (3 and 0).
- Jon Horford (4 and 1). Jon re-injured his knee in the WVU game, and could miss 2-3 weeks. Bummer.
- Caris LeVert (2 and 0).
A few other bench players played in at least one game last week, but didn’t score:
- Eso Akunne – Eso didn’t play in the WVU game.
- Blake McLimans – Blake didn’t play in the WVU game.
- Corey Person – Corey didn’t play in the WVU game.
- Matt Vogrich – Matt didn’t play in the WVU game.
Michigan only has one game this week. On Thursday (12/20/2012, 8:30 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Eastern Michigan, in Crisler Arena. EMU is currently 6-3 on the season, but their only impressive win is over Purdue. I expect this game to be a lot like the Western Michigan game a few weeks ago: tense for a while, then a blowout win for Michigan.
Check back next week to see what happened, and why.