The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.
The (#3) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week; both games went to overtime, and both had thrilling endings. Unfortunately, they won the first but lost the second. On Tuesday (02/05/2013), they beat (#10) Ohio State 76-74 in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (02/09/2013), they lost to Wisconsin 65-62 in Madison. The win and the loss leave UM with a record of 21-3, 8-3 in Big Ten play. They are tied for 2nd place in the Big Ten.
As exciting and thrilling as the Ohio State win was, the Wisconsin loss was twice as emotional. Michigan had the game wrapped up at the end of regulation, with a 3-point lead and only 2.4 seconds left. Wisconsin had to go the length of the floor, and they managed to swish a half-court 3-pointer at the buzzer, to force overtime. It was so deflating, and Wisconsin had the momentum for the overtime. On the final shot of regulation, Michigan tried to foul the Wisconsin shooter, but couldn’t catch him. The odds of a half-court shot going in are vanishingly small, but they worked against Michigan this time. It was a tough loss. Michigan hasn’t won at the Kohl Center in Madison since 1999.
On the other hand, the Ohio State win was exhilarating. The game was close most of the way, but OSU starting pulling away early in the 2nd half. That’s when Tim Hardaway Jr.
caught fire, hitting three 3-pointers in a row to put Michigan back on top. The lead see-sawed from there, and the game was (obviously) tied at the end of regulation, but Michigan went ahead for good in the overtime and won with a pair of blocked shots in the last few seconds.
Even though UM lost another game, so did most of the rest of the contenders, and it’s still a tight race for the title. At this point, all of the contenders still control their own destiny, including Michigan. See this week’s Big Ten Report for more details.
As expected, the stats for the OSU game look a lot better than the stats for the Wisconsin game. First, OSU: Michigan shot pretty well overall (28-for-60 = 46.7%), and even better from 3-point range (14-for-24 = 58.3%). They didn’t shoot many free throws, and they didn’t shoot them particularly well (6-for-11 = 54.5%). They (barely) won the rebounding battle (32-30), and they tied in the turnover battle (11-11). The 3-point shooting was the difference. In the Wisconsin game, Michigan shot poorly overall (28-for-71 = 39.4%), but they shot really poorly from 3-point range (5-for-18 = 27.8%). They only shot 2 free throws (!), and made one of them (50.0%). They tied in the rebounding battle (39-39), and they won the turnover battle handily (7-14). The big difference was 3-point shooting again, but this time in the negative sense.
Individually, 3 players hit double figures in both games:
- Trey Burke – 16 points vs. OSU, and 19 vs. Wisconsin.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. – 23 and 18 points. As I mentioned above, Tim was on fire vs. OSU, and he played well against Wisconsin as well.
- Mitch McGary – 14 and 12 points. Those 14 points vs. OSU were a new career-high for Mitch. Mitch is playing very well recently.
2 players hit double figures in one game:
- Glenn Robinson III – 10 and 4 points. GR3 had another sub-par game vs. Wisconsin.
- Nik Stauskas – 11 and 5 points. Nik also had a miserable game vs. Wisconsin. Michigan will have trouble beating the other contenders when both GR3 and Nik are having bad games at the same time.
The only starter who failed to hit double figures in either game was Jon Horford, who started both games in place of the injured Jordan Morgan. Jon had 2 points in each game. He only played 13 and 7 minutes, compared to 29 and 32 minutes played by Mitch McGary. Even though Jon is listed as the starter, Mitch is the main player at center, at least until Jordan returns to the starting lineup.
Besides McGary, the bench players didn’t have much success scoring:
- Spike Albrecht – 0 and 0 points.
- Max Bielfeldt – DNP and 2 points. Max played 18 minutes in the Wisconsin game, to give UM more “beef” underneath.
- Caris LeVert – 0 and 0 points.
- Jordan Morgan – 0 and DNP points. Jordan only played 4 minutes against OSU, and it was obvious that he wasn’t ready to go full speed yet.
Other than McGary, who is essentially the starter at center, Michigan only got 2 points from all the other bench players in both games combined. This is a recipe for disaster. The starters can’t carry the team for the rest of the season.
Michigan is finally at the end of a brutal 4-game stretch. So far, they are 1-2, with one game left. On Tuesday (02/12/2013, 9:00 p.m., ESPN), they play (#12) Michigan State in East Lansing, then on Sunday (02/17/2013, 12:00 noon EST, BTN), they play Penn State in Crisler Arena. Michigan State is currently tied for 1st place in the Big Ten, one game ahead of Michigan, so this is a crucial game. Michigan has had a tough time winning in East Lansing, but they stand a good chance this year. Oh yeah: the Penn State game will be a slaughter. PSU is 0-11 in the Big Ten so far, and they are very weak.
Check back next week to see what happened, and why.